Streaking Alaska handed Rain or Shine its first loss Thursday night after escaping with an 89-88 win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Vic Manuel flashed his pre-pandemic form when it mattered, hitting 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Aces rallied from being down 75-68 midway in the period before enduring excruciating moments in the end to pick up their third straight victory after a 0-2 start.
Jeron Teng had 13 points and eight assists while Abu Tratter and rookie Barkley Ebona added 10 points apiece for Alaska, which has been playing sound basketball following losses to TNT and Meralco.
“When things didn’t go our way, we went back to just doing things we know we could do well that is defending and improving that aspect. We felt that would make it easy on the offensive end,” said Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso.
Alaska has limited its opponents to 83.7 points during the three wins, including against Rain or Shine.
Manuel’s jumper and a running one-hander gave the Aces leads of 85-80 and 87-83 under the last two minutes, but his clutch shots nearly went for naught when the Elasto Painters gave them a scare.
Beau Belga cut the gap to a point 89-88 with 7.3 seconds left, then forced Alaska guard Jvee Casio to lose the ball out of bounds off Teng’s inbound, giving Rain or Shine a chance to steal the game.
Rey Nambatac, who came through in the clutch against San Miguel Beer and NorthPort, tried to do it again when he used a Belga pick to go for a driving layup. But Nambatac missed a finger roll against two defenders before time expired.
The loss denied Rain or Shine a 4-0 start and a share of second place with idle Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
It also spoiled a career game from Sidney Onwubere, who topscored for the Elasto Painters with 16 points. The former Emilio Aguinaldo College standout was averaging 1.4 points in 20 games last season.
Javee Mocon and Adrian Wong, the first Rookie of the Week winner of the PBA Press Corps, added 14 and 12 points for Rain or Shine.
ALASKA 89 — Manuel 18, Teng 13, Tratter 10, Ebona 10, Herndon 9, DiGregorio 7, Brondial 7, Casio 5, Ahanmisi 5, Galliguez 3, Ayaay 2, Marcelino 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 88 — Onwubere 16, Mocon 14, Wong 12, Torres 10, Belga 10, Nambatac 7, Norwood 5, Yap 5, Doliguez 3, Rosales 2, Ponferada 2, Rivero 2, Tolentino 0.
Quarters: 22-18, 38-41, 61-63, 89-88.