Aces survive Niños-A A +A
Friday, February 1, 2013
PHILIPPINE Cup semifinalist Alaska Aces survived the end game blitz of the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños for a thrilling 83-81 win in the opening game of the 2013 Sinulog Cup Basketball Tournament held at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
The Aces were heading for an easy win after holding a double-digit lead over the Niños midway to the fourth.
However, MLKP suddenly found life after the De La Salle University Green Archers bound Benoit Mbala sank a 4-point play and Abby Santos scored an unmolested lay-up off an alley-hoop pass from Quinton Brian Heruela that inched the Niños within 77-73 with 4:16 left to play.
Alaska answered with four points – two free throws from import Robert Dozier and Calvin Abueva’s lay-up--at the 3:26 mark.
However, that was Alaska’s last field goal as M. Lhuillier pushed hard to threaten the Aces.
MLKP had the chance to sneak up front in the dying seconds the game after Mbala scored with 5.4 seconds remaining that put the Niños within 83-81.
Mbala could have put more pressure on the Aces but his bonus shot missed. Fortunately, the loose ball was rewarded to the Niños, giving MLKP another chance to tie or steal the lead.
Coach Yayoy Alcoseba mapped out a play for his three-point artist Stephen Padilla but as he heaved a prayer, he was caught stepping on the sideline and that proved to be MLKP’s final possession of the basket.
Alaska wisely used up the clock to pick up its win.
The Aces had a strong start to build a 19-10 lead after the opening quarter.
M. Lhuillier managed to come back and tied the game at 33-all at the bend and went to lead by as many as four points early in the third before Alaska went strong to take the lead away for good.
Dozier topscored for Alaska with 21 points, Calvin Abueva added 18 while Mbala scored a game high 23 points. Heruela and Mark Magsumbol finished with 15 points
Today, the Niños will play Petron Blaze Boosters at 5 p.m. while Alaska trade shots with Barangay Ginebra Kings in the main game at 7 p.m.
Alaska (83) – Dozier 21, Abueva 18, Hontiveros 8, Baguio 7, de la Cruz 6, Casio 6, Ramos 4, Belasco 3, Thoss 2, Reyes 2. MLKP (81) – Mbala 23, Heruela 15, Magsumbol 15, Saladaga 7, Santos 7, Rodriguez 4, Aboude 4, Padilla 3. Quarters: 19-10; 33-33; 61-57; 83-81.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 01, 2013.