Alaska deals an ace in Manuel, up 2-0

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Muscleman Vic Manuel put accent to another brilliant game with a terrific finish, canning two charities for a 83-80 decision as Alaska raced to 2-0 lead in its best-of-seven title series with San Miguel Beer last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The 6-foot-4 Manuel, who topscored for the Aces in the first game, turned goat-to-hero in the closing seconds, losing the ball from an inbound play, soaring for a crucial block on SMB’s possession and drawing a foul for the two free throws that cushioned the nerve-wracking win.

That put the Aces two games up on the Beermen in their Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup finals, sending SMB to a big hole that might hasten the return of the injured JuneMar Fajardo.

Manuel lost a crucial possession in the last 14.5 seconds but atoned for it with clutch plays as the Aces made a follow-up to their 100-91 triumph in Game One.

The scrappy forward was all over the floor at the finish, blocking a shot by Yancy de Ocampo, getting a rebound, draining two pressure-packed free throws then deflecting an SMB inbound to personally thwart the Beermen.

“It would be great if we could say Vic was nobody before and his game was just developed at Alaska. But he’s MVP winner in the PBL and in the D-League. He’s the Muscleman a long time ago. He’s got the capacity to dominate the game,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.

“He’s our scoring leader through the tourney. He’s huge. He’s fantastic,” Compton added.

“Just like the first game, we had our chance. We lost on the breaks of the game,” said SMB coach Leo Austria ruing a crucial error by Marcio Lassiter and missed free throws by Yancy de Ocampo in the last 40 seconds.

The Aces go for a third straight win in Game Three over at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena tomorrow.

The Beermen may enjoy a sort of home court advantage playing in the home province of their head coach. “I’m sure my kababayans in Sariaya will come to cheer for us,” said Austria.

The Beermen put up a tough fight in the continued absence of Fajardo only to run to a wall at endgame, going scoreless in the last 1:50 of play.

San Miguel didn’t score a basket again after Ronald Tubid drained a trey to tie the count at 80-all.

Dondon Hontiveros and Manuel made the marginal free throws in the game where the Aces set the pace all throughout until the Beermen caught up at 55-all late in the third.

The two teams then engaged in a gripping duel to the finish.

The Beermen had their chance to win the game after Lassiter stole off Manuel with 14.5 ticks to go.

Tubid, however, missed a three-point try from the right flank then Manuel blocked a follow-up by De Ocampo.

The Beermen were forced to foul in the next play but Manuel coolly sank his two foul shots to make it 83-80.


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