ANGELES CITY–Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso lauded the tenacity of his wards for clamping down on Magnolia’s ace Paul Lee last Saturday night.
Lee still scored in double figures, 14 points, but the Aces shackled him to a measly 4-of-16 field goal shooting as they barged into the win column at the expense of the Hotshots, 87-81, after a two-game losing start in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble.
Mike DiGregorio, Rodney Brondial, Jayvee Casio and MJ Ayaay took turns in holding off Lee, who missed all three of his two-point attempts and nine of his 13 three-point shots in almost 28 minutes of play at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center powered by Smart 5G.
“I think Mike did a great job of carrying out that responsibility, so did Rodney, so did Jayvee and so did MJ Ayaay. That was really our purpose, to get a few guys guarding him (Lee),” said Cariaso.
The Magnolia gunner was coming off an 18-point showing highlighted by a game-winning four-point play in the Hotshots’ comeback 103-100 victory last Wednesday.
But the Milkmen did not allow the Angas ng Tondo to replicate his endgame heroics against the Road Warriors. With Alaska leading 85-81 with 25.3 seconds left, DiGregorio and the rest of the Aces denied Lee of finishing coach Chito Victolero’s double screen play for him, forcing Jackson Corpuz to take a three that was blocked by Casio.
“(In) guarding Paul Lee, you need to be ready, you need to be focused and a lot of their offense revolves around him. So, we just wanna mix it up a little bit,” said Cariaso.
“Happy with the way our guys performed.”
Cariaso will need another outstanding defensive mindset from the Aces to versus Blackwater (2-1) on Tuesday.