26 March 2011

Bolts 101, Aces 104

Mercado and Espinas
The Alaska Aces lost import LD Williams barely four minutes into the game and they looked defeated with three minutes remaining in regulation, trailing Meralco by 11 points.

Then the unexpected happened.

L.A. Tenorio warmed up in the second half and came away with a career-high 33 points, including two clutch 3-point shot in the closing seconds of regulation as the Aces stunned the Meralco Bolts, 104-101 in overtime on 25 March 2011 at the Araneta Coliseum.

Then Joe Devance, who wasn’t supposed to play with a second-degree sprained right ankle, took over, knocking six points in overtime as Alaska outscored Meralco, 10-7 in extra session. Devance finished with 19 points that went with his eight rebounds, eight assists and three blocks.

"To be honest nag-cross sa mind ko na we can't win without LD minus his rebounding and intensity. But during the break napag-usapan namin na magandang challenge into. And we did it," related Tenorio, who exploded with all his points in the second half after going scoreless in the first.

"LA did everything to bring us back. It’s incredible to watch LA do that kind of stuff," said Alaska coach Tim Cone, who also heaped praises for Devance.

"Joe wasn‘t supposed to play. His ankle was still swollen like a tennis ball. I guess he got inspired by Kobe Bryant. He said he got some pain but can go through it and was ready to play. But in my mind I wasn't playing him," Cone said.

Alaska improved to 5-2 (win-loss) record with their first win in three overtime games this conference – all against Manny Pangilinan teams -- and kept the Aces in the hunt for an outright semifinal berth.

It was a frustrating loss for the Bolts, who controlled the game for most parts and appeared to have sealed the win when Champ Oguchi hit a 3-point shot that gave them a 94-83 advantage with 3:08 remaining.

As a result, they had their two-game streak snapped and, worse, their fifth defeat in seven games
pushed them on the brink of elimination.

Oguchi scored 30 points, Sol Mercado had 24 and Mark Cardona added 23 for the Bolts, who went
scoreless in the last three minutes of regulation.

Tenorio's successive 3-pointers capped a sensational performance by the smart Alaska guard and an 11-point cluster by the Aces in the fourth.

Alaska could have won it in regulation but Cyrus Baguio (17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) missed his second free throw with 0.3 of a second remaining that sent the game into overtime.

Williams, who averaged 24.7 poind 10.3 rebounds in his first six games, was ejected with 7:52 to play in the fourth after being whistled with a flagrant foul penalty two after landing an elbow on Cardona’s head while trying to protect the basketball with his eyes shut. (DBC)

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