Aces flex muscle to outlast Elite
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (Philstar.com) - October 30, 2015 - 5:00am

MANILA, Philippines -- Vic Manuel reported to work two days after his wedding, and provided the spark and inspiration as Alaska Milk turned back Blackwater, 87-79, for a second straight win in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night.

Kept on the bench in the first half, Manuel came out to key a crucial second-half turnaround leading to Alaska’s follow-up on its 114-98 conquest of Talk n Text Friday.

The Aces drew level with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, the NLEX Road Warriors and the San Miguel Beermen at 2-0 while the Elite remained out of the win column with a second straight setback.

“I’m glad I have him,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, referring to Manuel whom he intended not to field in the contest.

“He’s newly-wed and I wanted to give him a day-off,” Compton said.

But with the Aces groping for form through the first half, Compton was forced to tap in Manuel who responded with a solid 18-minute performance where he churned out 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

“I felt our decision-making in the first half was very poor. We’re disrupted by Blackwater’s defense. We didn’t get to where we wanted to do. Nobody set us up to where we wanna be,” Compton said.

“But credit to our players, they played with fire in the second half. Our defense improved significantly in the second half,” Compton added.

Jvee Casio, Sonny Thoss and Chris Banchero added significant numbers on the offensive end, and the whole team indeed made a tremendous effort on defense in the second half, holding the Elite down to 31 points.

Reil Cervantes, Jerick Canada and Mike Cortez led the way as the Elite dominated the first half, leading by seven, 48-41, at the half.

“I didn’t like our form tonight. We’re fantastic against TNT. But this only showed there’s no easy team in the PBA,” said Compton. “Blackwater did a good job. They clearly outplayed us in the first half. They gave us tough problems.”

Casio scored eight of his 10 points in the third with Manuel, Cyrus Baguio and Dondon Hontiveros contributing clutch baskets as the Aces pulled ahead, 69-66, going into the final quarter.

Manuel then took charge in the payoff period, personally finishing the Elite off.

Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra squares off with Barako Bull while Talk n Text faces off with Mahindra in the league’s Halloween presentation in the same playing venue Saturday night.

The four teams are all coming off a losing season-opening game.

ACIRC ALASKA MILK ALEX COMPTON BARAKO BULL BARANGAY GINEBRA COMPTON CYRUS BAGUIO AND DONDON HONTIVEROS HALF JERICK CANADA AND MIKE CORTEZ JVEE CASIO MANUEL
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