MANILA, Philippines - Alaska Milk scored some measure of revenge against Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals tormentor Air21, using a strong final half run to hack out a 98-84 win in the PBA Governors Cup at The Arena in San Juan last night.
The Aces outhustled and outmaneuvered the Express in the last two quarters and hit the .500 mark with a second straight win after a 0-2 start in the season-ending tourney.
“I’m happy to get two wins after two losses. We’re trying to develop momentum and, hopefully, we can make it three in a row against Petron Sunday. A streak in this short conference is crucial,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone.
“I think our team is starting to believe on what we’re doing, on Jason (Forte) and on the role he’s playing. He’s got the heart and his scoring is a bonus,” Cone said.
Forte churned out a near triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss and Wesley Gonzales also played big, leading Alaska to its second straight win after a 107-102 decision over B-Meg last Wednesday.
The loss, its fourth straight, sent Air21 to the brink of elimination. The Express made the semifinals in the previous conference, beating the Aces, 2-1, in their best-of-three quarters showdown.
Baguio put in a team-high 19 points, including seven in a key 14-2 run that sent Alaska away at 89-72 entering the last two minutes of play.
Thoss had double-double numbers with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Gonzales went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points on top of the good defensive job he threw on Alpha Bangura.
“Wesley showed the reason why we got him. He can stop an import and key players and he can contribute offensively. Not a lot of players can do that,” said Cone of Gonzales, their acquisition from Air21 in exchange for rookie Elmer Espiritu.
Bangura actually had a decent game early on but lost his rhythm after picking up his fifth foul with 2:02 left in the third. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The Aces closed the third at 68-55 and preserved a safe margin all the way to the finish.
“I thought we didn’t play very good in the first half. We’re not finishing shots and not getting the loose balls. We’re lucky we defended well and still finished on top at the half,” said Cone.
“Jason (Forte) turned it around in the second half,” Cone added.
Later in the night, B-Meg forced a four-way logjam at fourth with Meralco, Alaska and Petron as the Llamados whipped the Bolts, 104-92.
Stefhon Hannah played well in what could well be his farewell game in a short stint in the league, tossing in 23 points to help the Llamados notch a second win against the same number of defeats.
B-Meg’s new import prospect Darnell Hinson was to fly in last night.