SLR 100, Aces 90

On: 22 March 2009

PBA Fiesta 2009

The last time out, Sta. Lucia Realty got into trouble for failing to hold on to a big lead. In its next outing, it showed it could dish out a dose of its own medicine.

The Realtors beat Alaska 100-90 in a game where both teams had highs and lows Sunday (22 March) to get back on the winning track in the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

Just four days after blowing a 19-point lead and losing a 92-98 decision to San Miguel Beer, the Realtors displayed their own defensive tenacity by holding the Aces scoreless in the last 3:24 of the game.

Offense was taken cared of by Anthony Johnson, Marlou Aquino, Kelly Williams and Dennis Miranda, who mainly conspired in a balanced assault that propelled Sta. Lucia to its fourth win in six games, tying it with idle Burger King at third spot in the standings.

For winning head coach Boyet Fernandez, it was his charges’ keeping their defensive focus after falling behind by 72-82 early in the fourth quarter that spelled the biggest difference in the game marking the teams' first meeting since Alaska beat them in six games in the Philippine Cup semifinals.

“This is a defensive struggle,” said Fernandez. “We're both 1-2 in defense in the tournament right now and as I've said before, those who make stops will win in the end. Defense really played a factor in this game.”

So listless did Alaska wind the game up that although it managed to score on four triples it only had four points from everywhere else in the fourth quarter, going 0-of-7 from inside the arc and committing five turnovers in the stretch.

Seemingly out of frustration, Tim Cone was ejected for two straight technical fouls and assistant Jojo Lastimosa also drew a 'T' with the Aces just 30.6 seconds from officially having their win-streak cut short at two and absorbing their second loss in six games.

Johnson turned all those technicals into free throws that made it a 97-90 game before Miranda pegged the final count with a deep three at the buzzer.

After being held to only 19 points by SMB, Johnson wound up with 40 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two shotblocks. Aquino had his best scoring game of the season with 18 points, spiking it up with four rebounds, as many assists and three shotblocks.

Miranda added 16 points while anchoring the defense on Willie Miller while Williams wound up with 12 points and seven boards.

Despite being limited to just four points in the fourth period, Miller still wound up with 20 points to lead Alaska, which also drew 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Rosell Ellis and at least 13 points from Joe Devance and Sonny Thoss.

The windup was a complete reversal of what transpired in the third period of the game that had a total of 14 lead changes and 13 deadlocks.

Aquino's baseline jumper and Johnson's trey put Sta. Lucia ahead at 69-64 before Alaska went on an 11-1 tear that gave it a 74-70 lead going into the payoff quarter.

Johnson's followup dunk opened up the final period, but the Aces remained hot with Devance hitting back-to-back treys and Ellis canning two charities for the game's biggest difference, still 10:11 to go.

Then Miranda scored on a drive and issued back-to-back assists to Johnson and Ryan Reyes, resulting in a triple and a short stab that completely got the Realtors well on their way to their biggest comeback yet in the tournament.

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