Alaska marked its return from a lengthy absence due to COVID-19 protocols with a dominant display to frustrate defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 89-75, Friday, Sept. 17 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Aces scored the game’s first six points and led 22-6 late in the first quarter, setting the tone for a one-sided affair that seemed unlikely after being placed under the league’s health and safety guidelines for two weeks.
“It feels really good to be back playing again. It feels better to be able to be successful today,” said Alaska coach Jeffrey Cariaso, whose team hurdled the first game of a grueling schedule of playing three straight days.
Up next for the Aces are the league-leading TNT Tropang Giga almost 24 hours later before concluding the stretch against the Terrafirma Dyip on Sunday.
Abu Tratter had 13 points and four rebounds while four others scored in double figures for the Aces, who revived their playoff bid after climbing to eighth spot with a 3-4 record.
Mike DiGregorio scored 11 points, Jeron Teng and Maverick Ahanmisi had 10 points each while Rodney Brondial, Gab Banal and Jaycee Marcelino were key on both ends for Alaska.
Ginebra dropped to ninth position at 4-6 for its first losing record in 14 conferences under coach Tim Cone, who was very displeased with his team’s performance two days after rallying to beat Phoenix Super LPG.
Cone’s team will play the second-running Meralco Bolts to wrap up the eliminations in a schedule to be determined later, and the Gin Kings can’t afford to drop another match if they want to make the quarters.
Stanley Pringle finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals for Ginebra.
Alaska’s huge start resulted in a 23-8 lead at the first quarter after holding Ginebra to 3-of-21 from the field. The Aces didn’t budge the rest of the way as they made sure the Gin Kings pull off a repeat of their comeback win over the Fuel Masters.
Cone was so frustrated with Ginebra’s listless showing that he spent the whole second half handing the reins to his assistants Richard del Rosario and Olsen Racela.
A free throw by Tratter with 3:33 left in the third period gave Alaska its largest lead at 64-41.
ALASKA 89 — Tratter 13, DiGregorio 11, Teng 10, Ahanmisi 10, Herndon 10, Brondial 9, Marcelino 8, Banal 8, Casio 6, Adamos 4, Ilagan 0, Ebona 0.
GINEBRA 75 — Pringle 20, Thompson 17, Standhardinger 9, Tenorio 8, Ayaay 7, Mariano 6, Tolentino 2, Devance 4, Dillinger 2, Caperal 0, R. Aguilar 0.
Quarters: 23-8, 43-25, 66-52, 89-75.