Ginebra Loses Anew as Aces Pound on Slaughter’s Absence

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Alaska Uses a Big Third Quarter to Get Third Straight Win

Sometimes, having a bully on your team helps a lot especially when you’re up against the elite teams in the PBA such as the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. The bully on your team will do the dirty works against the opponents’ best player from mind tricks to small antics that will take the focus out of that specific and even, absorb some elbows along the way. Usually, the bully on your team is your team’s main muscle man. Fortunately for the Alaska Aces, they do have their own muscle man and that man is none other than Vic Manuel.
Greg Slaughter is nowhere on the court but on the bench. Joe Devance isn’t playing just yet. Both men were forced to watch as their team got dominated for the second time around, this time by the surging Alaska Aces, 97-83. The Aces of Alex Compton hiked their win number to 3 after starting the season with two consecutive losses. On the other hand, Ginebra has dropped its second straight game exactly 9 days after their stunning loss at the hands of the Blackwater Elites.
What happened in the game? Below are the numbers:

The absence of Gregzilla balanced things out

Greg Slaughter has played a vital role in Ginebra’s Governors’ Cup championship which earned him the Best Player of the Conference award. So it’s no surprise that Ginebra missed him during last night’s encounter against the Aces as Alaska took advantage of the situation. Offensively, the Aces shot 44% from the field which also includes a 43% shooting from the 2-point area. This is precisely because Slaughter wasn’t around to challenge the Aces’ slashers. It also enabled the biggies of Alaska to do their works as Sonny Thoss had 17 points, complimenting the efforts of Vic Manuel who led the Aces with 18 points. The Aces also won the rebounding battle, 45-43.

Vic Manuel’s Efforts

Over the last few years, Vic Manuel has established a reputation as a bruiser, someone you wouldn’t enjoy playing against because of the mere fact that he will find ways to knock the ball out of your hands or worse, to frustrate you and eventually, take away your focus in the game. And we all saw Vic Manuel’s efforts to the fullest last night as he led the Aces with his18 points- 14 of those points came in the 2nd half when the Aces ran havoc against the puzzled Gin Kings. He shot 6 for 15 from the field and made 6 of his 8 attempts from the free throw line. Manuel also added  6 rebounds while playing for 23 minutes.

Conclusion

The good news for the Gin Kings though, they have until Friday to prepare for their game against the Phoenix Fuel Masters. It should give them enough time to ponder on their mistakes. It should give Tim Cone to plan the needed adjustments should Greg Slaughter miss that game, again because despite the Fuel Masters’ 2-2 record, Phoenix has vastly improved. Will Ginebra finally break their losing streak? They better. Why? The league-leading San Miguel Beermen are next after Friday. 

What Doomed Meralco against the Aces?

Chris Newsome
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Chris Newsome and company have lost two straight games

Over the course of the last two seasons, the Meralco Bolts have been dealing with their own inconsistencies. Sure, they have been to the Governors’ Cup Finals for two consecutive seasons but they haven’t cracked the code just yet they have lost twice in the Finals against the same team, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. And their inconsistencies have appeared to be holding them down again in the Philippine Cup.
After winning their first game to open the 43rd season of the PBA, the Bolts are now on a 2-game losing streak after losing to the lowly Alaska Aces, 103-98. That, by the way, was the Aces’ first win in 3 games. And frankly, it wasn’t an upset win either because Meralco wasn’t playing the same way they did in the Finals against Ginebra. Not even close.
So what exactly doomed the Bolts this time?

They got Murdered Inside

The Bolts got dominated from the inside as they allowed Calvin Abueva and company to outscore them 54-20 in points in the paint. Their shooting from the 2-point area also doomed the Bolts as they only 35% of their attempts from the 2-point territory. On the other hand, Alaska went 31 for 66 from the 2-point area, a 46% shooting. 

Defensive Lapses. And More

Meralco was known as a defensive-minded team over the two seasons but their defense against the Aces was simply acceptable. Sure, the Bolts were able to shut down Jeron Teng who was held to 8 points on 2 for 8 shooting from the field but for the rest of the Aces? Meralco’s defense just vanished. 
Another proof that Meralco’s defense wasn’t working at all was the fact that they got outscored in points off fast break opportunities: 14-4. The Aces were also the better team in terms of getting more points off their missed opportunities as they held an 11-9 edge in second-chance points.

Alaska’s Bench produced 50 Points

As mentioned above, Meralco did contain Jeron Teng but forgot about Calvin Abueva who led Alaska with 19 points on 7 for 10 shooting. Aside from that, the bench of Norman Black failed to match the intensity of the Aces’ bench troopers who combined for 50 of the Aces’ 103 points. Vic Manuel also had 19 points while coming off the bench.

Conclusion 

Norman Black is one of the league’s greatest coaches and it’s only a matter of time until he figures things out with his players. Having a 1-2 record this early doesn’t necessarily mean that Meralco is a bad team and so is Alaska. However, the Bolts need to speed their improvements soon because their schedule isn’t about to get easier. Why? the Talk N Text KaTropa are up next on the Bolts’ schedule. 

Lee Explodes for 30 Points in Magnolia’s Debut Win

Yep! The Lee-thal Weapon still has it

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
One team is entering the new season under a new team with the hopes of bringing something new to the league. The other team is hoping to begin anew as they were coming off one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Despite missing key players to injury, the Magnolia Hotshots were able to rely on their defense to win their first game of the season against the Alaska Aces, 108-95.

Slow Start

The game started off slow for both teams as the Alaska Aces held a 6-5 edge with 3 minutes into the game.A few possessions and fouls later, the Magnolia Hotshots were already down 17-8 as Jvee Casio knocked down a three-pointer, forcing Chito Victolero to call a timeout with under 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
After a Mark Barroca basket. Jeron Teng completed a three-point play on the other end to give the Aces a 10-point lead. The Hotshots were visibly struggling as they were also dealing with the absences of their key players due to injury. Despite their sluggish start, Magnolia was able to stay close after Paul Lee drained a buzzer-beating trey to make it 26-21 at the end of the first quarter.

The Chickens Started Flying in the Second Quarter

After all, the Magnolia Hotshots are the “Pambansang Manok”, right? Just when the Aces were beginning to re-establish a double-digit lead, the Hotshots clamped down on D and went on a scoring run to make 35-30 with 9 minutes to play in the first half. Two consecutive inside baskets have finally enabled the Hotshots to take the lead, 36-35. 
Magnolia was able to slash into the sloppy defense of Alaska as their lead extended to 8 points, at 50-42 with under 3 minutes to play in the quarter. Kyle Pascual nailed a free throw later to give the Hotshots a 10-point lead as he added another lay-up to make it 56-44. The Hotshots walked into their locker with a 10-point advantage, at 57-47- thanks to their improved field goal shooting which was 55% for the first half and their defense which limited Alaska to only 2 for 10 shooting from the three-point line. 

The Beast got Unleashed Early in the Third. BUT

Calvin Abueva scored 8 points in the opening minutes of the second quarter to bring down the deficit to 6 points only for Magnolia to bring it back to 9 on a three-point shot. An offensive putback by Ian Sangalang put the Hotshots at 70-59 with under 7 minutes to play as the Aces were slowly fading anew.
As turnovers and defensive lapses began to pile up, the Aces saw themselves down by 14 points after Mark Barroca added another inside shot. Add Alaska’s inability to get the defensive rebounds to their woes plus an injury on the big man, Vic Manuel.  Paul Lee later drained a long bomb to put Magnolia by 15 points as PJ Simon added another trey to make it 87-671 heading into the final two minutes of the third quarter.  Both teams entered the final quarter with Magnolia holding an 87-74 lead.

The Aces Tried to Come Back. Tried

The Aces got within 11 points in the first 2 minutes of the 4th quarter thanks to their aggressiveness. Carl Cruz’s basket pushed the lead down to  9 only to watch Robert Herdon complete a 3-point play to stop the Hotshots’ bleeding. Another three, this time from Justin Melton brought the lead back up to 16, at 97-81.
The lead went down to as low as 8 points with under 4 minutes to play as Alaska forced Magnolia to difficult shots and took advantage of their opportunities on the break. That was before Paul Lee hit another three to make it a double-digit lead again. From that point on, Magnolia slowly wasted away the clock as Robert Herndon added another basket to put the game away.

The Numbers: The Good and the Ugly

Paul Lee scored 30 points off the bench to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Riego Gamalinda added 15 points while Ian Sangalang chipped in 13. Magnolia shot better from the field all game long, making 51% of their shot attempts while limiting Alaska to only 46% field goal shooting. Magnolia also forced 22  turnovers.
Calvin Abueva had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists for the Aces but also had 5 of the 22 turnovers of Alaska. Vic Manuel also had 20 points while Jeron Teng added 16 points in his debut. 

The scores:

MAGNOLIA 108 – Lee 30, Gamalinda 15, Sangalang 13, Dela Rosa 10, Simon 9, Herndon 9, K. Pascual 9, Barroca 6, Melton 3, Ramos 2, Brondial 2.

ALASKA 95 – Abueva 20, Manuel 20, Teng 16, Casio 10, R. Pascual 7, Enciso 5, Exciminiano 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 3, J. Pascual 2, Cruz 2, Magat 1, Racal 0.

Quarter Scores:

21-26, 57-47, 87-74, 108-95.

Why is Jeron Teng the Perfect Pick for the Aces?

The former King Archer scored 15 points against Rain or Shine

The Alaska Aces were used to be among the elite teams in the PBA during the past few seasons. This is the same franchise which Tim Cone led to multiple championships when he was still at the helm of the team. However, injuries to key players plus personal issues surrounding Calvin Abueva have struck the Aces during the last season as they ended Governors’ Cup near the bottom of the standings as they ended the closing conference with a 3-8 record. 
Alex Compton and the rest of the Alaska Aces may have missed the playoffs but we all know that Calvin Abueva and company are more than capable of achieving more than just a slot in the semifinals. All they need are two things: Consistency and Health.
When the Aces drafted Jeron Teng, a champion during his last season with the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP, there were a few basketball pundits who questioned this move by the Aces. Sure, Jeron Teng is a legitimate scorer as proven by his performances during his stint with the Archers but the Aces are already loaded with scorers and energetic players, to begin with. 

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However, the Aces are also faced with painful realities: Calvin Abueva can’t carry the team on his own. Jvee Casio isn’t the same player as he was during his early years. Vic Manuel, the team’s muscles, has fully recovered from his injury but given his age, he can try but he won’t be the same kind of player that he was once. These realities may require a complete overhaul from top to bottom but given the situation, an overhaul can wait. For now. 

Conclusion

The good news is: Jeron Teng is still young at the age of 23 years-old. He has shown glimpses of what he can do for the Aces during the pre-season games and even scored 15 points to compliment Calvin Abueva’s efforts- leading Alaska to a victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. If anything, Jeron Teng can definitely contribute more to Alaska given the opportunity. But then again, that’s if he’s consistent. And healthy. 

GILAS-ables: Vic Manuel

GILAS-ables” is a series of articles that will discuss different players who could make a case for joining the Gilas pool. This series will include Filipinos and Fil-foreign players plying their trade not just in the PBA but also in other leagues, including the US NCAA, the UAAP, and the PBA D-League.
In the fourth article in this series, we’ll talk about a player who’s represented the Philippines in international 3×3 competitions already but has not generated even a single peep with regards to his possible inclusion in the Gilas pool.
PLAYER INFO
Name: Manuel, Vic
Team: Alaska Aces
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 201 lbs
College: PSBA
PBA STATS
Current Season:
16.4 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game, 1.4 steals per game
Career:
8.8 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 1 assist per game, .5 steals per game
WHY HE SHOULD BE IN THE GILAS POOL
Much like Sean Anthony, a Gilas-able discussed earlier, Vic Manuel was a so-so player until this year, when something suddenly clicked inside the head of the 4-year veteran.
After 2 uneventful years with other teams then a year adjusting to the Alaska Aces system, Manuel suddenly blossomed this year, which was highlighted with a victory over the Terence Romeo-led Manila West 3×3 team and a stint in the 3×3 Master’s Tournament in Abu Dhabi, where they finished in 6th place.
If selected to the Gilas pool, Manuel should be expected to challenge, ironically enough, Alaska teammate Calvin Abueva’s role as slasher/driver, garbage basket man and general, all-around pest.
A shade taller than Abueva at 6-4, Manuel will still be undersized as a small forward, the only position that makes sense for him. However, Manuel does have the heft and muscle to bother much taller players, even while lacking Abueva’s superior foot speed.
Where Manuel is more reliable than Abueva and even other options at SF like Gabe Norwood and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser is at scoring around the basket. He barely has bad shooting nights because he’s very picky about his shots and he never strays far from his strengths.
He also has enough bulk to absorb contact and finish through them as well as the quickness and the guile at the post to get his shot off before shot blockers can react to him. And while it is highly unlikely that Manuel will be the primary scoring option at the blocks, it doesn’t hurt to have him there, especially when Fajardo/Slaughter are out of the game and Blatche is camped out at the 3point line.
But for him to realistically get a shot at a Gilas slot, he has to prove he can play defense on known scorers. That means shutting down the likes of Arwind Santos and Ranidel de Ocampo or, better yet, the mid-sized imports of the league. If Manuel can do that, then he’ll have a leg up on his competition at SF.
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