ALASKA withstood a fourth quarter storm whipped up by Arwind Santos and NorthPort to eke out an 87-85 win Friday in a match kicking off the PBA Governors' Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Olu Ashaolu had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds and Jeron Teng added 19 points for the Aces, who enjoyed several 10-point leads in the fourth quarter before almost fading in the stretch.
Good thing there was Rob Herndon coming up with a clutch shot and the Batang Pier drawing nothing in their last two thrusts that spelled the big difference in the closely fought match.
"In any conference you always want to start off on the right foot, so we'll take any win we can," said Cariaso.
"You try to win early, you try to get early wins as you start to get the timing back, the feel of playing back," added Cariaso. "As you can tell there was still a lot of rust so again just happy to pull it off."
For naught went Santos' own maiden game with the team that acquired him from San Miguel Beer as he came off the bench to wind up with a game-high 23 points on top of seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
The former MVP was at his hottest in the fourth period where he scattered 14 of his points, highlighted by three straight three pointers, that powered NorthPort back from a 10-point deficit and within 81-83.
Lack of coordination seems to be the main problem of NorthPort.
Greg Slaughter finished what Santos started by capping an 18-point, 11-rebound performance with four straight points that pushed the Batang Pier ahead 85-84, still 39 ticks left.
That hold of the lead proved to last just nine seconds, however, as Herndon came up with his fallaway jumper that wrested back the lead for Alaska.
Seeing no real movement from his teammates and despite plenty of time left on the Batang Pier's shotclock, Robert Bolick was forced to chuck up a three-pointer that missed and his ensuing foul enabled Teng's charity to make it a two-point game, six seconds to go.
Bolick then heaved a three-pointer from the logo that also missed, putting to waste import Cameron Forte's 18-point, 14-rebound debut. (NC)
Alaska 87 - Ashaolu 20, Teng 19, Hernodon 13, Taha 8, Ahanmisi 7, Tratter 6, Tolomia 6, Digregorio 5, Racal 3, Brondial 0.
NorthPort 85 - Santos 23, Forte 18, Slaughter 18, Bolick 8, Rike 5, Taha 2, Elorde 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarters:19-18, 41-39, 68-60, 87-85