Abueva returns to lead Alaska to their fifth straight win, Garcia is clutch for TNT

TNT KaTropa 90 – Kia Picanto 85

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The TNT KaTropa entered the game against the Kia Picanto thinking it would be an easy win. The Picanto almost made them pay for taking them lightly. Thankfully for TNT, RR Garcia proved to be clutch in the endgame.

TNT had a lot of trouble shaking of Kia in this game. The game was tight from the get go as every time TNT tried to pull away, Kia would come roaring right back. TNT held a six-point lead late in the first quarter but Kia leaned on Rashawn McCarthy and new acquisition Carlo Lastimosa to get back in the game. They ended the first half breathing down TNT’s neck, down by only three points.

In the third quarter, TNT slowly found their groove offensively. They ended the quarter on a 7-0 run to pull away from a deadlock. Norbert Torres got the run started but Jason Castro and RR Pogoy both pitched in to give the KaTropa a 69-62 lead heading into the final period. Early in the fourth quarter, RR Garcia and Jason Castro teamed up to increase that seven-point lead to double-digits, giving TNT their biggest lead of the game at 11 points.

TNT still held an eight-point lead within the final four minutes, but Jackson Corpuz and McCarthy had the Picanto roaring all the way back. They were within two points in the final two minutes of the game. That was the closes Kia would get. Garcia scored the last five points of the game hitting back-to-back dagger baskets to increase TNT’s lead. He sliced into the lane to score on two layups to give TNT a six-point lead with 44 seconds left, enough breathing room to pull out the win.

Alaska Aces 93 – Phoenix Fuel Masters 75

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Calvin Abueva made up for missing the Alaska Aces’ last game due to personal reasons. He came back with a vengeance and made sure that the result against the Phoenix Fuel Masters wouldn’t be in doubt.

Abueva was a flurry of energy all game long. He came off the bench to score 21 points, grab 14 rebounds and steal the ball four times. He impacted the game on both ends of the floor and finished with the highest +/- of the game at +28. Chris Banchero continued his stellar play with 22 points five rebounds and five assists to back Abueva up. The Aces continued to play bully ball inside with Noy Baclao and Vic Manuel combining for 20 points in the game.

Alaska held a slim one-point lead midway through the first period when Abueva sparked the Aces to a double-digit lead. He scored six points in a 14-4 run to help Alaska pull away 23-12 to end the first period. The Aces continued to pile it on in the second quarter. They limited Phoenix to just 12 points, scoring 25 points in the process. Banchero ended the first half with a 7-point flurry in a 9-2 run to give Alaska a comfortable 24-point lead. The Aces would continue to hold on to that lead, building it to as big as 27-points in the final minutes of the game.

This is Alaska’s fifth straight win since starting the season with back-to-back losses. They’ve risen up the Philippine Cup Rankings to third place behind the San Miguel Beermen and the Magnolia Hotshots.

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