by: Christian Jasper Arenal
|PHOTO BY: pba.inquirer.net. Aces' Sonny Thoss battled his way out against Beermen's Junemar Fajardo and Arwind Santos|
Manila, Philippines-- The Alaska Aces keep their championship hopes alive as they even the series three apiece forcing a do-or-die game 7 after an 87-76 win against the San Miguel Beermen on Sunday, January 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Trailing as much as 14 in the first quarter, the determined Aces battled back and turned the tables on the Beermen, holding on the lead from the second quarter towards the fourth behind the efforts of their bench players.
Dondon Hontiveros, who played for San Miguel several years ago, came out big against his former team spoiling what seems to be the end of the Beermen's 14-year All-Filipino championship drought.
The “Cebuano Hotshot” blasts for 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting, 9 points coming from downtown to lead all scorers for the Aces.
The Aces bounced back after being down 4-18 through the pesky defense provided by their second unit, shooting up the energy to end the first quarter and cutting the deficit to just 6.
The combined efforts of the veteran Hontiveros and Vic Manuel helped the Aces mounted another comeback in the second period scoring 25 points while limiting their opponent to 13. Beermen's efforts to crawl back were denied, giving the Aces the chance to pull away with the win.
Manuel, another unsung hero for Alex Compton’s team, finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, providing quality minutes after Abueva’s stint into early foul trouble.
Starting playmaker Jvee Casio broke his silence on the scoring sheet after going scoreless through games four and five. He scored 9 points all in the second half with four rebounds and three assists.
Arwind Santos led the Beermen with 22 points while Marcio Lassiter added 19 for the Beermen.
Game Seven is on Wednesday, January 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Quarter scores: 17-23, 42-36, 63-56, 87-76