Alaska Aces overcame Manny Pacquiao-led Mahindra Enforcers’ late punches to chalk up a 98-94 win in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) Philippine Cup at Al Wasl Club Friday night.
Pacquiao, the world’s only eight-division boxing champion, was in the starting line-up for Mahindra as guard. He attempted two jump shots and two three-pointers but was scoreless after staying for seven minutes on the floor in the first quarter. He did not grab a rebound nor dished out an assist but committed two turnovers.
Mahindra Enforcers, however, played an inspired game while Pacquiao was on court and they even enjoyed a 12-6 lead at the start of the first period. But Alaska rolled out a 10-2 run and took the driver’s seat as Pacquiao was replaced by LA Revilla with five minutes left in the opening quarter.
Alaska quickened the pace of the game and got an 11-point lead at 27-16. The Aces ended the first quarter on top by nine, 31-22, and increased their lead to 13, 53-40, before the break. They enjoyed their biggest lead at 15, 55-40, at the start of the third quarter but Mahindra reduced the deficit to four, 70-66, going into the final quarter.
Alaska tried to pull away at the start of the fourth quarter after Dondon Hontiveros made back-to-back triples but Mahindra showed their resolve to keep the game close.
A split free throw by Revilla followed by a jumper by Aldrech Ramos tied the score at 87-all with only one minute and 27 seconds left in the game. In the next possession, Alaska’s Eric Menk missed a jumper but Calvin Abueva grabbed the offensive rebound. He was fouled and split the free throws to give Alaska a one-point lead, 88-87.
Alaska then made a couple of defensive stops which were turned into back-to-back baskets by former Smart Gilas point guard JV Casio and Vic Manuel to put the Aces ahead by five, 92-87, with only 25 seconds left.
But Revilla quickly retaliated with a triple to cut the deficit to just two, 92-90, with 19 seconds left. Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio made two free throws to give his team a four-point cushion then Revilla replied with a jumper. However, the breaks of the game went Alaska’s way.
“We got a couple of lucky breaks to get the ball possession as Abueva made huge offensive rebounds,” Alaska Aces coach Alex Compton told Sport360. “We played quite sloppy while (Mahindra’s) Revilla was great down the stretch. Mahindra deserve a lot of credit. They are an expansion and people think we will just roll them over but it did not happen.”
Playing against Pacquiao, Compton added: “We honour the game. We defended him (Pacquiao) well and did not give him anything. If you noticed he got three blocks from us because we did not hold our punches. We treated him like any other PBA player.”
On his part, Mahindra coach Chito Florentino said: “It was a good match. We had a good chance of winning but we did not execute well during the homestretch and Alaska played tough defence in the last one minute. Right now we’re in the bottom of the standings but the good thing is we faced the top three teams and we will take the positives we learned from our matches.”
More than 2,000 fans packed the Al Wasl Club Friday night to watch boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao take to the basketball court – although the eight-division world champion failed to land any significant blows.
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Pacquiao went scoreless and was unable to record an assist while also committing two turnovers for his Mahindra Enforcers as they lost 98-94 to Alaska Aces in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) Philippine Cup.
Pacquiao said after the contest: “It’s okay. Our loss was part of the game.”
Pacquiao was in the starting line-up for Mahindra operating as a guard and every time he received the ball the crowd cheered for him to shoot. Pacquiao obliged four times, including two three-point attempts, but none were successful. He then left the game late in the first quarter to rapturous applause.
Alaska head coach Alex Compton reflects on PBA victory over Mahendra Enforcer and looks ahead to Ginebra clash on Saturday.