By Jonas Terrado
Columbian leaned on import Khapri Alston’s dominance performance to beat new-look Alaska, 117-110, as the PBA Governors’ Cup got underway Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alston, standing almost 6-foot-4 with a playing weight of 260 lbs, finished with 38 points and 22 rebounds as the Dyip opened their campaign in the season-ending conference on a bright note.
Coach Johnedel Cardel is pleased that Alston met expectations right from the onset which he considers as a positive sign as Columbian eyes a playoff berth after going 4-7 and 3-8 in the previous two conferences.
“We have a good import,” said Cardel. “Even though he is 6-foot-3, he plays like a 6-foot-10 player.”
He was backstopped by rookie CJ Perez, who went for 28 points in his first PBA game since an impressive showing for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup in China.
Glenn Khobuntin scored 16 points while Rashawn McCarthy and new addition Juami Tiongson added 11 points apiece for Columbian in spoiling the debut of new Alaska coach Jeffrey Cariaso.
Cariaso and the Aces leveled the count at 56-all during halftime but Alston and Perez combined for 28 points in the third as the Dyip started the third on a 20-6 run to take a 76-62 lead midway in the period.
Dampening the start of the season’s final conference was the gruesome knee injury of Alaska center Noy Baclao with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Team doctor Facundo Sun suspected that Baclao ruptured his right patellar tendon which happened after being fouled by Columbian’s Andreas Cahilig with Alaska behind 95-83.
Import Justin Watts scored 40 points for the Aces in the loss while rookie Abu Tratter put up 15 points and nine rebounds in his first game after being traded from Blackwater in exchange for Carl Bryan Cruz.
COLUMBIAN 117 — Alston 38, Perez 28, Khobuntin 16, McCarthy 11, Tiongson 11, Camson 5, Flores 4, Calvo 4, Reyes 0, Celda 0, Gabayni 0, Cahilig 0.
ALASKA 110 — Watts 40, Tratter 14, Manuel 14, Enciso 11, Ayaay 9, Thoss 6, Galliguez 6, Casio 4, Banchero 3, Baclao 2, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 28-22; 56-56; 93-81; 117-110.