PBA Fastbreak: Alaska, TNT earn wins

The Best: There were signs of life from the Alaska Aces’ local crew last night, as RJ Jazul and Gabby Espinas each scored 18 points to help lead coach Luigi Trillo’s squad to its maiden win in the Commish Cup. Jazul hit 4 of his 5 triples in the first half to spearhead an early charge for the defending conference champs. He finished with 14 markers after the first 24 minutes. He went checked in the second half, however, and that’s when Espinas shone, hitting some key shots to help Alaska drown out the pesky Batang Pier. The former PCU Dolphin added 6 rebounds and 1 assist to his tally while also making all but one of his field goal attempts.

The Worst: I get the feeling that as every game goes by, we’ll all witness just how butt-awful it was for the Batang Pier to trade away Sol Mercado for Alex Cabagnot. In this game, Cabaggie coughed the ball up 3 times and shot just 5/11 from the floor. He contributed to GlobalPort’s 15 TOs, while the Aces committed just 9. Cabagnot is not a bad point guard by any stretch of the imagination, but, at least so far, he hasn’t really been able to show that he’s a prime fit for GlobalPort. The adjustment period for the team (new PG, new coach, new import) is bound to end someday, but that day might come too late.

BullDozier: Rob Dozier seemed like he was having another anemic outing after scoring only 10 points in the first three periods, but he more than made up for it by dropping 15 markers on the Batang Pier in the final frame. Dozier scored 9 of Alaska’s first 13 points in the fourth quarter, which basically opened the floodgates and enabled the Aces to pull away and earn their first win unmolested. Last year’s Commish Cup Best Import also pulled down 15 rebounds while dishing out 5 dimes in an impressive all-around performance. 

The Best: How well did Richard Howell do (sorry, I couldn’t resist it)? He bucked foul trouble in the first half to register a game-high 29 points on top of 12 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block as the Tropang Texters won their second game of the conference. Howell, the youngest import of the lot, continued to be an impressive inside force for TNT, scoring two key undergoal stabs in the final minute to ward off the stiff challenge posed by the Express. The NC State alum continued to shoot well from the floor, making 11/21 FGs and also 7/10 FTs.

The Worst: As I’ve said in our import lowdown for this conference, Herve Lamizana isn’t really built to score heavily. His main job in his stints abroad consisted of cleaning the glass and, more importantly, erasing shots. He did both of those well here, grabbing a game-high 15 boards while also swatting 7 TNT attempts. This was offset, however, by his atrocious field goal shooting — just 4/16 from the floor, including 0/3 from rainbow country. It’s a good thing Asi Taulava turned back time again with a herculean 23-point, 11-rebound double-double or the Texters would’ve probably blown this game wide open.

Gilas Represent!: A day after finding out that Greg Slaughter and Marcio Lassiter backed out from the Gilas Pilipinas national pool, Gilas mainstays Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel De Ocampo didn’t seem fazed or distracted one bit. Castro drilled in 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, while his perennial backcourt-mate, Jimmy Alapag pumped in 14 points, 12 in the payoff period, on 4/7 shooting. RDO also did well after his rousing performance this past Wednesday. The former St. Francis of Assisi cager reeled in 12 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and 2 blocked shots. - Rappler.com