Aces smother Batang Pier, level series

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 6, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Alaska Milk waged a gut-wrenching comeback against GlobalPort, pulling off an emphatic 100-76 win to force a one-game-deadlock in their Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Aces dictated the tempo of the rugged encounter and ripped the Batang Pier apart in a big fightback from a 93-107 loss in the series opener Monday over at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer rides the momentum of its dramatic come-from-behind win Tuesday as it seeks to establish a 2-0 lead versus Rain or Shine in the resumption of their own semifinal duel also at the Big Dome tonight.

The Aces broke away in the second half after a volatile first two quarters where a record 13 technical fouls were called following a shoving match among players that was within a heartbeat away from a free-for-all.

The Aces threw a resolute defense against the GlobalPort’s scoring machine, limiting it to a mere two points after an 18-point explosion in the opening half.

Offensively, second-string guards Chris Banchero and RJ Jazul led the team with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Calvin Abueva had a double-double game with 11 points and the same number of rebounds while Jvee Casio also played a stellar role at the backcourt with 13 markers, including two treys.

“Defense. Energy. I wish I could say more but look at how many points they put on the board,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, stressing defense worked for them in this game.

“The story of the game was not the incident. We have a better defensive energy. They’re tough. I don’t think they were rattled. I don’t think Pido (Jarencio) is soft. He’s been through a lot,” Compton also said, trying to downplay the fracas towards the end of the opening quarter.

The Batang Pier stayed in the battle through the first half but slowly faded away in the second half with the Aces keeping tremendous pressure on defense.

More composed this time, the Aces overwhelmed the Batang Pier in a battle marred by a total of 16 technical infractions – matching the league record set in the Alaska-Shell match in a road game in Butuan City back in 1997.

The first half alone had 15 technical fouls called nearly overshadowing Romeo’s 18-point production.

A shoving incident late in the first quarter initiated by Abueva produced a slew of technical fouls and underscored Alaska’s all-out drive to level the series at one game apiece.

Meanwhile, Rain and Shine coach Yeng  Guiao and center Beau Belga were slapped P20,000 each in fine for technical fouls committed in Game One of their semifinal series.

Guiao drew a technical foul for bumping on San Miguel guard Chris Ross during a throw-in situation with 9:45 left in the third quarter. Belga was also assessed a technical for shoving Ross in the altercation that ensued.

The Commissioner’s Office also slapped Jericho Cruz and Raymond Almazan of ROS and San Miguel’s Yancy de Ocampo and Ross a total of P5,800 in fines for technical fouls for various reasons.

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