Alaska relied on a big third-quarter assault as it blasted Blackwater Bossing, 103-77, in a Friday afternoon massacre highlighting the opening of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.
The Aces spent the first two quarters trying to size up the seemingly-game Bossing (formerly Elite), before they caught fire in the third period, where they exploded for 32 points.
Alaska’s top three scorers for the day— Mike DiGregorio, Yousif Taha and Abu Tratter—combined for 21 points during that third quarter assault which gave the Aces a 71-57 lead.
The Aces then sustained the heat all the way to the fourth period and never gave the Bossing any room for a comeback as they opened up their campaign in the kickoff tournament of the league that has been on a roller-coaster ride for six months since its bubble tournament in Angeles City.
It was a close game though all the way between NLEX and Rain or Shine, with the latter needing to take extra care of the ball in the stretch to escape with an 83-82 win later in the afternoon.
Protecting a scary 83-79 lead with 31 seconds, the Elasto Painters saw the Road Warriors threaten at 82-83 after Kiefer Ravena knocked in a long three-pointer with 19 seconds left.
The Road Warriors even forced them (Elasto Painters) to a couple of turnovers, but were lucky enough to preserve their hairline lead after Anthony Semerad bungled a short jumper in the face of a tight ROS defense.
The Bossing though played without big men Carl Bryan Cruz and Frank Golla—probably the reason why the Aces were able to dominate the rebound department, 66-46.
Cruz missed the game as he has yet to recover from a torn meniscus injury that has actually kept him out of the bubble last year, while Golla is nursing a strained injury.
Without Cruz and Golla, the Bossing fared miserably inside, unable to cope with the aggressive play of the Aces, who scored heavily in the paint, 48-26.
Blackwater coach Nash Racela clearly saw the big difference in the game.
“Nagsimula nu’ng binugbog na kami sa loob. Kulang kami sa malaki,” said Racela, who could not say when Cruz and Golla would return to action.
The Aces also had excellent ball movement all gamelong as manifested by the 28 assists they made against Blackwater’s 16.
Digregorio finished with 20 points built around four triples, Taha tallied 16 points and seven rebounds, while Tratter added 13 points and six rebounds as the Aces made what will go down as the most lopsided season-opening game in the PBA in 22 years, or since Mobiline routed Tanduay (Asi Taulava’s pro debut) 90-64 in 1999 All-Filipino Cup.
League Commissioner Willie Marcial expressed elation over the turnout of events, uttering words of thanks after the league finally got going once again even when the pandemic isn’t totally over.
“Salamat, salamat at nakapagsimula na rin tayo,” said Marcial at the sidelines inside the venue devoid of fans. “Sana magtuloy-tuloy na tayo.”
Alaska (103) – DiGregorio 20, Taha 16, Tratter 13, Regile Kent Ilagan 8, G Banal 8, Herndon 7, Adamos 7, Teng 7, Brondial 6, Casio 5, Mercelino 4, Ahanmisi 2, Browne 0, Ebona 0, Publico 0.
Blackwater (77) – Enciso 23, Tolomia 15, Daquioag 12, Canaleta 7, Magat 6, Nabong 6, Amer 4, D Semerad 2, Desiderio 2, Paras 0, Dennison 0, Golla 0, Torralba 0, Acuno 0, Escoto 0.
Rain or Shine (83) – Rey Nambatac 19, Belga 17, Mocon 12, Ponferada 10, Norwood 8, Asistio 6, Torres 5, Santillan 4, Borboran 2, Guinto 0, Wong 0, Rivero 0, Tolentino 0, Caracut 0, Yap 0.
NLEX (82) – Ravena 23, Alas 13, Trollano 11, Jericho Cruz 10, Soyud 6, A. Semerad 6, Miranda 5, Quinahan 5, Porter 2, Oftana 1, Paniamogan 0, Ighalo 0, Ayonayon 0, McAloney 0, Galanza 0.
Quarterscores: 26-26, 38-43, 69-63, 83-82