By Jay R. Gotera
MANILA —The Alaska Aces regained their fiery form in the endgame after nearly blowing a 20-point lead to hack out an 85-69 win over the hapless Star Hotshots in a PBA Governors’ Cup road game in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines Saturday night.
The Hotshots came charging back in the final quarter to cut the Aces’ lead to 3 points, 66-63. Sensing danger, the Aces responded with a 10-1 blast to seal only their second victory in six games. The win also snapped a three-game losing streak for Alaska.
It was Alaska’s seventh straight win over Star extending into the last two seasons.
Import LaDontae Henton paced the Aces with 27 points, nine rebounds and four blocks while Calvin Abueva finished with a double-double 10 markers and 10 boards.
Import Joel Wright led Star with 30 points and 22 rebounds while prized new acquisition RR Garcia added 15 markers—all for naught as the Hotshots suffered their fifth loss in six games, sending them to the bottom of the standings in the company of Blackwater.
After a closely fought first quarter, the Aces seized control of the game in the second quarter with a 25-7 run. The first half ended with Alaska on top by 16 points, 41-25.
Star’s shooting woes were made even worse when veteran star James Yap crashed on the floor and had to be assisted by his teammates after apparently hyperextending his knee in a rebound play.
The third quarter started with Alaska racing to a 20-point lead, 45-25, forcing Star coach Jason Webb to call a timeout.
The Hotshots came back strong after that, with Wright and Garcia combining for 23 points.
The third quarter ended with Alaska up by just seven, 57-50.
With the momentum shifting to Star, the Hotshots opened the final quarter with a 12-2 run, cutting the deficit to just three, 66-63.
The Aces responded with another huge run to finally send the Hotshots packing for the night.
Games Sunday: Blackwater Elite (1-5) vs. Mahindra Enforcers (4-2) and Barangay Ginebra Kings (4-2) vs. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (3-2).