CALVIN Abueva engaged his matchups in taunting, thrash-talking and in intense physical battles. Most important of all, he made things happen for his team.
"We have to play wilder on defense, and I guess it has to start with me," said Compton on his new look.
Abueva was among the lead forces as the Alaska Milk Aces snapped a four-game losing streak from last season with a sustained solid game throughout leading to a 103-98 win over the Meralco Bolts in the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces played with a staying power that they didn't have in their first two games in PBA Season 43, thus, finally breaking into the win-column following back-to-back losses to the Magnolia Hotshots and the TNT KaTropa Texters.
Meralco, meanwhile, suffered a second straight loss after winning its first game in the season versus Blackwater.
"We talked about starting the year with a clean slate. And it's nice to see everybody stepping up on the floor," said Alaska coach Alex Compton, sporting a beard in their first game in 2018.
"The defense was way better (from our previous games). We played hard before but it's not as hard as tonight. We worked hard but it's not as hard," Compton pointed out.
With a determined effort, the Aces set the tone of the match early, taking the opening quarter at 26-16, the half at 53-39, and the team held on to the finish.
Abueva and Vic Manuel top scored with 19 points apiece, Chris Banchero contributed 13 while Jeron Teng, Jvee Casio and Kevin Racal added eight each.
While the Bolts were waging their last stand in the fourth quarter, Racal banged in back-to-back treys in a breakthrough performance.
"Those were huge treys he made while also helping us to play tough defense," said Compton.
Abueva was solid all throughout, and his great intensity obviously rubbed off on his teammates.
The match was marred by couples of technical infractions, including the double-technical fouls committed by Abueva and Jared Dillinger in the third quarter.
It was a virtual repeat of their clash also on Jan. 10 four years ago.
Chris Newsome led his team with 23 points that went with six boards and four assists against four turnovers. (SB)
ALASKA 103 - Abueva 19, Manuel 19, Banchero 13, Teng 8, Casio 8, Racal 8, J. Pascual 7, Enciso 7, Thoss 5, Potts 4, Exciminiano 3, Cruz 2.
MERALCO 98 - Newsome 23, Canaleta 16, Amer 15, Bono 9, Dillinger 8, Hugnatan 8, Baracael 6, Caram 6, Lanete 5, Ballesteros 2, Tolomia 0.
Quarters: 26-16, 53-39, 78-71, 103-98.