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Alaska sneaks past Mahindra in Dubai thriller

Calvin Abueva finished with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds in his first basketball game in UAE since the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final. PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

DUBAI--Alaska survived a sloppy game and a late push by Mahindra to score a 98-94 in the first of two PBA Philippine Cup showcases at the Al Wasl Sports Club early Saturday (Philippine Time).

In a game where they turned the ball over 30 times and was limited by the Enforcers to 36 percent shooting, the Aces saw their 15-point lead evaporated but still held on to go 3-0 in the all-Filipino conference.

Alaska opened a 57-42 cushion early into the third quarter, but Mahindra slowly crawled back and cut the lead to just two late in the period.

The Aces appeared to have restored some order as a 7-2 run spanning the final two frames put them up, 75-68, at the start of the fourth.

But five quick points from the Enforcers by the La Sallian connection of Hyram Bagatsing and L.A. Revilla trimmed the gap to two anew, 75-73.

Another 11-4 run by Alaska capped by a slam from Calvin Abueva stretched the lead to nine, 86-77, with 3:26 left.

Mahindra responded with a 7-0 run that pulled the team to within two anew, 84-86, with 2:41 remaining.

Vic Manuel, who was impressive from the free throw line at the start of the ballgame, only made a split from the line, and the Aces were just up by three with 2:35 remaining.

Revilla also made only one of two charities in his own trip to the line, but teammate Aldrech Ramos scored on a fallaway moments later and the game was tied, 87-all, with 1:30 to go.

Abueva then came from way out to snatch the carom from the Enforcers, who forced Eric Menk to a tough shot, and put the Aces back up, 88-87, with a split with 1:19 left.

Revilla had a great chance of giving Mahindra the lead, but he muffed a layup after driving past the Alaska defense and Jvee Casio made him pay by making his own layup for a 90-87 cushion with 51 seconds to go.

Ramos opted to go for the tie with a triple that he missed, and Manuel further widened the Aces' lead to five, 92-87, with half a minute left.

Revilla never gave up and drilled in a three with 19 seconds remaining to cut the lead to two, 92-90.

But Cyrus Baguio made two charities to up the lead to four anew, 94-90, with 17.7 seconds on the clock.

Revilla's quick layup was canceled by two more free throws from Casio with 12.1 seconds remaining.

Revilla made another easy deuce to put the lead down to two again, 96-94, with 4.2 seconds left, but his foul on Casio was ruled as a Flagrant Foul Penalty 1 and Alaska got the ball back despite a split from Casio.

Abueva's own split from the line with 1.7 seconds left finally put the result beyond doubt.

Manuel and Abueva, who had impressive performances during the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final in the nearby emirate of Abu Dhabi, made a triumphant return to UAE by leading the Aces with 17 and 15 points respectively.

Revilla, who had to come off the bench as playing coach Manny Pacquiao got the start, finished with a game-high 19 markers for the Enforcers, who also had 30 errors all game long after only committing a total of 27 in their first two games.

Pacquiao, who reportedly made five triples in an exhibition game on Wednesday, was scoreless in a seven-minute stint, missing both his two three-point tries and all of his four total field goal attempts on Saturday.

Alaska will complete a back-to-back schedule at midnight of Sunday (Philippine Time) when it will take on Ginebra in the tail end of the PBA's Dubai trip.

Box Scores:

Alaska 98-Manuel 17, Abueva 15, Casio 12, Baguio 8, Thoss 7, Dela Rosa 7, Menk 7, Dela Cruz 6, Hontiveros 6, Jazul 5, Banchero 4, Magat 4, Exciminiano 0, Baclao 0

Mahindra 94-Revilla 19, Yee 17, Canaleta 12, Ramos 12, Bagatsing 8, Guinto 6, Pinto 5, Paredes 5, Hubalde 4, Laure 4, Webb 2, Alvarez 0, Pacquiao 0, Baloria 0

Quarterscores: 31-22, 53-40, 70-66, 98-94

Follow the writer on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno