Alaska rallies to esape Fajardo-less San Miguel

By: Calvin D. Cordova January 17,2016 - 11:13 PM
PBA / January 17,2016  Gabby Espinas of SMB is fouled by Calvin Abueva of Alaska .at the Smart Araneta . INQUIRER PHOTO/AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Gabby Espinas of San Miguel beer is fouled by Alaska’s Calvin Espinas as he tries to score in Game 1 of the 41st PBA PH Cup Finals last night at the Araneta Coliseum. (INQUIRER PHOTO)

The Alaska Aces didn’t have to deal with June Mar Fajardo but still needed a ferocious endgame attack to escape the San Miguel Beermen, 100-91, last night in Game 1 of the 41st PBA Philippine Cup Best-of-Seven Finals at the Araneta Coliseum.

Vic Manuel led Alaska’s come-from-behind win by pouring in 14 of his career-high tying 24 points in the fourth period where the Aces wiped out a 12-point deficit.

Fajardo had to sit out after sustaining a knee injury in Game 6 of their semifinal series with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

According to reports, the injury didn’t need surgery and Fajardo may suit up in the next games.

But in the series-opener, San Miguel showed it is more than a Fajardo team.

With Yancy de Ocampo and Gabby Espinas providing the needed production in the paint, the Beermen put the Aces against the ropes as they erected a 78-66 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Manuel then went to work for Alaska, scoring six points in a 12-4 run that had them cutting the deficit to 78-82.

Two free throws by de Ocampo and another one by Alex Cabagnot restored an 85-78 San Miguel lead.

Manuel again struck, scoring six of Alaska’s next 10 points, allowing his team to steal the lead, 88-86, with 3:34 left.

De Ocampo tied the contest with a fall-away jumper but Chris Banchero gave the lead back to Alaska with a three-point play with 2:16 remaining.

Alex Cabagnot came up with a basket of his own, sinking a three-pointer that tied the game up anew, 91-all, with 1:57 left.

Manuel capped his stellar performance with two lethal plays, scoring in the paint against Espinas then assisted JVee Casio for a wide-open triple as the Aces erected a 96-91 lead with only 1:12 to go.

Cyrus Baguio, Banchero and Calvin Abueva backed Manuel with 16, 15 and 12 markers, respectively.

Abueva collared 13 boards, helping take a huge 48-28 rebounding edge.

San Miguel’s total rebounds were the lowest in franchise history and the lowest in the PBA Finals.

Cabagnot topped the Beermen with 20 markers, while Marcio Lassiter chipped in 18.

De Ocampo, who took the starting center spot in lieu of Fajardo, and Espinas did a decent job manning the Beermen’s frontline with 18 and 11 markers, respectively.

ALASKA (100) – Manuel 24, Baguio 16, Banchero 15, Abueva 12, Exciminiano 6, Jazul 6, Casio 5, Hontiveros 5, Menk 5, Thoss 4, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 0.
SAN MIGUEL (91) – Cabagnot 20, Lassiter 19, De Ocampo 18, Tubid 13, Espinas 11, Arana 4, Santos 4, Ross 2, Lutz 0, Semerad 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 11-4, 42-38, 75-66, 100-91.

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TAGS: Alaska Aces, June Mar Fajardo, PBA Philippine Cup Best-of-Seven Finals at the Araneta Coliseum., Rain or shine Elasto Painters

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