Aces forge first win

They may be the league’s senior citizens, but Magnolia’s Peter June Simon (left) and KIA’s Ronald Tubid show they still have a lot of juice during a loose ball scramble.

MANILA — Alex Compton does not want to bring up the past, the very recent one.

“That hurts,” he said after it was pointed out that his Alaska Aces finished last year with four straight losses dating back to the tailend of the last PBA conference. “We just talked about a blank slate and we need to write a new story on it.”

The Aces put a win on that blank slate on Wednesday night, showing up with their best form yet in the Philippine Cup and going on to plaster Meralco, 103-98, at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

“Last year was so difficult,” he said. “There was so much frustration for all of us. But I am so happy with the effort they (his players) came up with today and we finally got a win.”

Calvin Abueva scored 19 points and had nine rebounds despite being saddled with early foul trouble and Alaska’s defensive intensity proved to be the key and was the very thing that couldn’t take the smile away from Compton’s face.

“I am particularly proud of our defensive energy,” said the Alaska coach, who grew a beard to look “wilder” and hopefully make his team play “wilder” defense. “Our defense was way better. It was really nice to see, felt everyone contributed.”

Magnolia’s defense also held sway in the earlier game—and the Hotshots matched it with a second-half offense that wrecked KIA.

The Hotshots scored in the second half what a pathetic KIA Picanto managed for the whole game and went on to post a 124-77 rout.

After going into the halftime break trailing, 47-49, the Hotshots turned up the heat on both ends and held the Picanto to 11 third quarter points to break away and seal a second win in three games that kept idle leaders San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra in sight.

The Hotshots dealt the Picanto a humiliating defeat that tied the franchise’s worst setback.

Interestingly, that defeat was also dealt by the Hotshots on Sept. 22 last year, a 128-81 ripping when Magnolia was still known as Star.

“This is the start of our year and I told my players (at halftime) that we needed to start this right,” coach Chito Victolero said as he expressed joy at how his wards responded to his call and played their hearts out in the final two periods.