ALASKA coach Joel Banal was inciting his charges to match Petron Blaze's physicality and Adam Parada was quick to oblige.
The seven-foot reinforcement knocked down Boosters guard Alex Cabagnot early in the third period and the Aces collectively repeated the statement for the rest of the half to come away with a 93-88 win Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"When Adam ran over Cabagnot, we sent the message that their screens would have to stop," stated
It was just one facet of Parada's game as he also spiked a 22-point, 15-rebound performance with a crucial offensive board in the endgame while the likes of Bonbon Custodio and LA Tenorio helped deliver the crucial plays that enabled the Aces to hold on for the win.
It was the fourth victory in seven games overall for Alaska, enabling it to rebound big-time from a sorry 85-88 loss to Air21 their last time out and take solo fifth-running spot.
For coach Banal, the victory was made possible when his charges were able to play the kind of
toughness Petron displayed earlier in the game that netted the Boosters two 12-point leads.
"We anticipated Petron will come out with with a playoff type of a game and that's what they did in the first half," related Banal. "I was trying my best to convince the team that unless we play that kind of a game – physical, no easy points – we have no chance."
After Custodio, Baguio, JayR Reyes, Mark Baracael and the rest of the Aces he fielded followed
Parada's suit, Banal knew it was just a matter of time.
"When we played physical, we were able to catch up and even take the lead. It was just a matter of having that mindset of some physicality in our offense, to return the favor. When we did that, I felt we had a chance. "
Nick Fazekas finished with 33 points and also had 19 rebounds, but he was not able to grab the one
off a missed free throw by Custodio in the last 13 seconds of play.
That enabled Tenorio to sink the charities off a Cabagnot foul that practically iced the game and sent Petron reeling to its second straight defeat and a 3-4 win-loss slate in all that tied it with idle Meralco for seventh, a notch below the last playoff spot.
Cyrus Baguio scored 19 points, but it was Custodio who drew special mention from Banal after he
scored 17 points, which is just three short of his career-high notched when he was still a rookie for San Miguel Beer in 2008.
Custodio scattered 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, including four straight following
Parada's free throws that gave Alaska an 89-84 lead. He also wound up with a team-high five assists against three turnovers.
"I know Bonbon is capable of doing that," said Banal. "Sometimes you just turn your head away when he's making turnovers and making bad decisions and I'm glad I did that tonight."
Arwind Santos backed Fazekas up with 14 points and 10 rebounds, with his last jumper making it an 88-90 game, only 15 seconds left.
Parada showed the kind of mind games he could play by eavesdsropping on a Petron timeout in the last1:39, although he did not only draw the ire of the Boosters bench but also a technical foul for him and Booster Danny Ildefonso.
Petron actually controlled majority of the game, although Alaska gave a glimpse of what was to come later by inching to within 65-66 at the end of the third period.
Baracael's three-point shot highlighted the Aces' 16-7 onslaught to start the fourth canto, with
Baguio, Custodio and Tenorio also chipping in their share.
The Boosters downfall was hardly anticipated after they raced to leads of 34-22 and 40-28 in the
second quarter behind Fazekas. (NC)
ALASKA 93 - Parada 22, Baguio 19, Custodio 17, Thoss 14, Tenorio 11, Baracael 6, Reyes 2, Eman 1, Gelig 1, Salamat 0.
PETRON 88 - Fazekas 33, Santos 14, Yeo 11, Cabagnot 10, Ildefonso 9, Guevarra 6, Miranda 5, Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 18-27, 43-52, 65-66, 93-88