Abueva takes charge in the stretch to keep Alaska in playoff picture

Sep 10, 2017

ALASKA remains in the hunt for a quarterfinals slot, mainly through the superlative efforts of the man widely-known as "The Beast."

With Calvin Abueva sparking a sustained charge in the endgame the Aces managed to hurdle the gutsy Kia Picanto, 102-94, Sunday to stretch their winning streak to three in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

LaDontae Henton and Jayvee Casio also provided the clutch baskets in the stretch and helped cap Alaska's charge from a 10-point deficit starting the fourth period.

Still, it was clearly Abueva who showed the way, especially in the crunch where he not only scored six of his personal conference-high 26 points and grabbed four of his 15 rebounds but also made a visible effect in Geron Johnson's game.

In the end, the win jacked the Aces' record to 3-6 and kept alive their hopes of making it among the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals following the 11-game eliminations.

More wins by Alaska against Meralco on Friday and Rain or Shine on Sept. 20 and its chances would be greatly enhanced.

Coach Alex Compton was simply relieved his charges were able to withstand the gritty game displayed by Kia.

"Glad to win and I just want to say that (PIcanto shotcaller) Chris Gavina is doing a great job," said Compton. "Coming off a tough loss, with the situation they are in and still get his guys to play. Chris is squeezing so much out of his guys."

The task remains cut out for his Aces, added Compton. "I hope this is a character-building win for us," he noted. "We're fighting for our lives every game, but I hope we can get better. Right now we're just trying to win every possession."

Kia fell to a 0-9 slate and remained at the cellar, but not after displaying a game worthy of a playoff contender.

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Johnson scored 39 points, grabbed nine rebounds and issued seven assists while Philip Paniamogan, Nico Elorde, Mark Yee and Glen Khobuntin added at least 10 points each for the Picanto, who engaged the Aces through 10 deadlocks and six lead changes.

Five of those ties came in the fourth period alone where Kia refused to wilt despite blowing a 77-67 spread.

In the end, however, it was Alaska which prevailed, no little thanks to Abueva who highlighted his heroics by a charity and a putback that gave his team a 94-91 edge. He also drew two offensive fouls against Johnson, the last converted into a wide open trey by Henton that gave the Aces the lead for good.

Casio's four straight points and two more freebies by Henton, all giving them 20 points apiece, sealed the deal.

"They gave us more than I wanted," admitted Compton.