MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Alaska Aces escaped with a thrilling 89-88 win over Rain or Shine, racking up their third victory in a row in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Thursday night at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Veteran forward Vic Manuel took charge in the endgame, scoring 10 of his team-high 18 points in the final five minutes -- including back-to-back jumpers that made it a four-point game, 87-83, with 1:14 to play.
But the Aces still had to survive a nerve-wracking final minute that saw ROS trim the lead to two points, while they had no more timeouts left. Manuel could only convert one of two free throws for an 89-86 lead with 13 seconds to go, keeping the door open for the Elasto Painters.
Out of a ROS timeout, Alaska's defense shut down the possibility of a three-pointer, but Beau Belga waltzed to the line for a layup that made it a one-point game. The Aces then fumbled the ensuing inbound pass, with JVee Casio unable to catch Jeron Teng's throw.
Alaska survived, nonetheless, when Rey Nambatac agonizingly missed a layup as time expired.
"I can't express how happy I am, only because we're able to pull it off," said Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso afterward. "The timeouts, I think we have to be smarter, and that's on me."
"Hat's off to the guys for being able to find a way to grind out a win."
After losing their first two assignments, the Aces have now reeled off three consecutive wins. They also became the first team to beat Rain or Shine in the All-Filipino Conference, as the Elasto Painters entered the game with a 3-0 record.
It was an exciting game that featured six ties and 15 lead changes. Rain or Shine appeared to have taken control after Adrian Wong's three-pointer gave them a seven-point lead with six minutes to play in the game.
Alaska steadily chipped at the deficit, however, and took the lead for good when Robbie Herndon drilled a three-pointer with 2:40 left. Manuel took over from there, hitting from the perimeter to keep the Aces ahead even as Nambatac and Javee Mocon did their best to keep Rain or Shine within striking distance.
Fortunately for the Aces, they bothered Nambatac enough on his final drive to the hoop, forcing him to a painful miss.
Teng had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Barkley Ebona and Abu Tratter each had 10 points for Alaska.
Wasted in the loss was an impressive 16-point outing from Sidney Onwubere, and a 12-point effort from rookie Adrian Wong. Mocon finished with 14 points, while Nambatac was just two of eight from the field for seven points.