Alaska bounced back from two losses to open the bubble campaign by grinding out an 87-81 victory over Magnolia Saturday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Jvee Casio produced some of the keys in the final minutes as the Aces defeated one of the PBA’s top contenders to barge into the win column after falling short against the TNT Tropang Giga and Meralco Bolts.
Casio finished with 17 points, including a three-pointer that put Alaska ahead 79-75 with 2:40 remaining in the fourth. He also blocked a rainbow attempt by Jackson Corpuz while the Aces were protecting an 85-81 lead.
Jeron Teng scored eight of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Aces take the lead for good while Mike DiGregorio and Abu Tratter added 10 points apiece.
The Aces won in the first game since announcing that forward Kevin Racal will miss the rest of the conference due to an ACL injury he suffered in their 100-95 loss to the Tropang Giga last Oct. 11.
That game certainly was still in the mind of coach Jeffrey Cariaso, who told his team to carry a mentality as if the Aces had a 1-1 record.
“When you approach that game than being 0-2, I think their mindset’s different,” he said. “We came to this game facing a well-coached and very tough Magnolia team. They have superstars that we really have to worry about and to be able to step up and be better defensively is my biggest take on this game.”
Alaska bucked a 39-28 second quarter deficit to inch its way back into the game, cooling Magnolia’s offense after making 63-percent of its shots in the first quarter.
Mark Barroca was one of the few bright spots for the Hotshots with 16 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals. Rookie big man Aris Dionisio scored 10 points in 17 minutes.
But Magnolia saw Paul Lee being held to a 4-of-16 shooting despite 14 points, thus falling to a 1-2 record this conference.
ALASKA 87 — Teng 19, Casio 17, Tratter 10, DiGregorio 10, Manuel 9, Herndon 7, Galliguez 6, Ebona 5, Brondial 4, Ayaay 0, Marcelino 0, Publico 0.
MAGNOLIA 81 — Barroca 16, Lee 14, Banchero 13, Jalalon 11, Dionisio 10, Sangalang 8, De la Rosa 7, Corpuz 2, Reavis 0, Melton 0, Abundo 0.
Quarters: 21-29, 43-45, 62-64, 87-81.