|The Alaska Aces celebrate winning the 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 2) The Alaska Milk Aces would not wait long to complete their climb back to the top with their new bunch of players and new coach – and how!
Alaska took the best the back-to-the-wall Barangay Ginebra could offer last night, fighting the Kings toe-to-toe through 40 minutes before unleashing an incredible closing run to pull off a 104-80 victory that completed their clean sweep of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals before a record crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Best Import winner Rob Dozier and his team shut down Ginebra in the last eight minutes of play and ran away with the win sealing their mighty domination of the tournament for Alaska’s first championship in its post-Tim Cone era and 14th overall since joining the league in 1986.
“It feels like a first-timer again and I feel like 24 again,” said team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu as he personally accepted the first trophy delivered by the new Alaska group led by coach Luigi Trillo.
“This team has a lot of potential,” said Uytengsu of the bunch bannered by Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Jayvee Casio and super rookie Calvin Abueva.
Thoss played a key role as the anchor of their defense on Ginebra import Vernon Macklin, produced the numbers, and went on to win the Papa John’s Pizza Finals MVP award.
“You have to credit Ginebra. We know Macklin is hurt and Mark Caguioa is hurt. But they returned backing the talk,” said Trillo.
“We played more to their rhythm. They did some zone at ginulo kami sa depensa to rush things. Credit to our guys too, they were confident, stayed patient then fatigue set in for Ginebra,” Trillo added.
As the Kings faded away at the finish, the Aces roared with a 24-1 closing salvo and got away with the three-game sweep witnessed by a record crowd of 23,436, topping the 23,108-strong attendance in Game Three of the Ginebra-Talk n Text semifinals.
The amazing Aces walloped the Kings by an average of 16.3 points in the finale. And Alaska swept Ginebra in five games in all in the whole tourney.
“I’m just overwhelmed. At the start of the tournament, if you said we would sweep Ginebra in the finals and we would beat them by an average that big, I won’t believe that,” said Trillo.
“We built a good foundation and we enjoyed a bit of luck. We took care of business and went on a roll early. We figured out Air21 and San Mig Coffee (in the quarters and in the semis) then we faced a Ginebra team coming out tired,” Trillo also said.
Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua said the Aces deserved the championship.
“Swerte rin sila dahil pagod na pagod na ang mga bata,” said Chua.
Named Best Import before the game, Dozier lived up to the award, coming through with a near triple-double job with 27 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists against Macklin who struggled for just 12 markers and 14 boards.
ALASKA 104 - Dozier 27, Abueva 22, Casio 18, Thoss 13, Baguio 7, Jazul 6, Hontiveros 5, Reys 3, Espinas 2, Belasco 1, Ramos 0, Eman 0, Bugia 0, Laure 0, Dela Cruz 0.
GINEBRA 80 - Tenorio 18, Ellis 14, Macklin 12, Caguioa 12, Helterbrand 11, Baracael 5, Raymundo 4, Urbiztondo 2, Mamaril 2, Taha 0, Labagala 0, Espiritu 0, Hatfield 0.
Quarters: 23-20, 44-48, 71-72, 104-80