MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) For the second straight game, Kia Picanto stayed in the hunt for an entire half. And for the second straight game, it all fell apart in the third quarter.
The Alaska Aces displayed their full might in a stunning third quarter to overpower Kia, 102-65, and secure their second consecutive victory in the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Picanto showed little resistance on defense and could not buy a bucket on offense in a brutal third quarter that saw them outscored, 36-5, by the Aces. That turned a relatively slim 39-34 halftime lead by Alaska into a massive 75-39 advantage.
Rookie Jeron Teng had 13 points in the third frame alone, making five of his seven field goals as Alaska shot 57.7% from the field in the quarter. On the other end, they limited the Picanto to a paltry 8.7% from the field, as Kia made only two of its 27 field goals.
This marks the second game in a row that Kia suffered a meltdown in the third quarter after playing well in the first 24 minutes of the game. Against Magnolia last Wednesday, they led 49-47 at the half only to be outscored 34-11 by the Hotshots in the pivotal third frame en route to a massive 124-77 defeat.
With the loss, Kia has now lost 16 straight games, the longest losing streak in the PBA since 1995, when Ginebra lost 17 games in a row.
"Our defensive energy was a little undirected in the first half, and it caused us to give up some baskets that we didn't want to give up," Alaska coach Alex Compton said after the game. "In the second half, we were a little more focused."
The Picanto shot better than Alaska in the first half, as they made 41.2% of their attempts to the Aces' 39.5%.
They were unable to sustain that in the third period, however. Alaska scored nine unanswered points to open the second half, and Kia could not add to their score until the 7:46 mark, when Rashawn McCarthy drove baseline for a floater. It turned out to be one of only two field goals for the Picanto in the frame.
After Eric Camson's lay-up made it 38-51 with under six minutes to go, the Aces ran rampant. A lay-up by Vic Manuel started an incredible 24-0 run, as Alaska got virtually anything they wanted on offense. Simon Enciso picked their defense apart, assisting on buckets for Jake Pascual and Ping Exciminiano. A three-pointer by Carl Bryan Cruz capped the scoring blitz that completely took the wind out of Kia's sails.
Alaska led by as much as 40 points, 86-46, in the fourth quarter.
Kia has now lost its past three games by an average of 35.6 points.
"I really appreciate the effort of the guys defensively," Compton said after his team held the Picanto to 32.4% shooting at the end of the game. "I think we got our teeth back on defense."
Teng led Alaska in scoring with 23 points on 17 shots, while Cruz added 16 points. Alaska had a 62-44 rebounding edge, and tallied 26 assists in the game.
The Aces improved to 2-2 in the conference while Kia dropped to 0-4.
ALASKA 102 - Teng 23, Cruz 16, Banchero 11, Abueva 10, Manuel 10, Pascual 10, Enciso 8, Thoss 5, Galliguez 5, Exciminiano 2, Potts 2, Racal 0, Casio 0.
KIA 65 - McCarthy 16, Camson 15, Tubid 13, Ababou 5, Reyes 4, Caperal 4, Celda 3, Cabrera 3, Yee 2, Galanza 0, Jamon 0, Paniamogan 0, Sara 0.
Quarter scores: 20-21, 39-34, 75-39, 102-65
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