MANILA - A big reason for Alaska's stunning 108-72 upset of TNT KaTropa in the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals was that the Aces managed to limit Terrence Jones to just 19 points in the game.
It was a collective effort for the Aces, with Carl Bryan Cruz, Kevin Racal, and Jeron Teng alternating on defensive duties while Vic Manuel and Diamon Simpson stayed ready to help. With Jones smothered, the import put up just 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, and grabbed only 6 rebounds. Moreover, he committed 7 turnovers in the game.
It was a far cry from his usual numbers of 33.7 points, 16.09 rebounds, and 7.73 assists per contest for the top-seeded KaTropa, who now find themselves dragged to a do-or-die quarterfinal game.
"We do not have a single player who can stop Terrence Jones. We don't have a single player, not a single player," said Alaska coach Alex Compton. "So it has to be all of us, just hustling and flying around out there, and the players did it, and I'm proud of them."
It was Cruz who ultimately got Jones out of the game, as he bodied the import in the final possession of the third quarter. After the buzzer sounded, Jones turned around and shoved him in the upper part of the chest, causing Cruz to tumble backwards.
Jones was assessed with a flagrant foul penalty 1, forcing him to sit on the TNT bench for three basketball minutes. But with Alaska already ahead by a large margin, the import wound up sitting out the entirety of the fourth quarter anyway.
"'Di ko rin alam kung bakit niya ako tinulak eh. Eh, nagulat na lang ako. Malakas naman, masakit din," said Cruz, who also contributed 11 points, after the game.
"Tinulak ako sa chest, parang na-choke nga ako kaunti eh," he added.
Jones' shove aside, Cruz admitted that he was honored to have been given the assignment of guarding the former Houston Rocket.
"Ah, siyempre para sa akin, ano ito eh, NBA player. Kumbaga, gaganahan ka talaga depensahan 'to. Kumbaga, once in a lifetime lang 'to. At saka, it's an honor for me na mabantayan ko siya. Tsaka Best Import sa liga natin 'to eh. Kumbaga, gagawin ko lahat para sa team namin," said Cruz.
He would not deny that it was a difficult task, pointing out that Jones had a massive height advantage on him as well as a plethora of moves.
"So kumbaga, sa coaches namin, magandang game plan din, tsaka team effort para sa aming lahat," he added.
Cruz is already anticipating that Jones -- as well as the rest of TNT -- will bounce back on Wednesday, when they play in a do-or-die game for a spot in the semifinals.
"Gaya nga ng sinabi ni Coach Alex, kumbaga, enjoy lang namin ngayong gabi 'yung panalo namin, pero tomorrow, alam na namin 'yung mga adjustment namin, tsaka expect namin na babawi si Terrence Jones tsaka the rest of the team," he said.