MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Alaska Aces sent TerraFirma Dyip to yet another painful defeat, 99-96, in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Vic Manuel muscled his way into 18 points and seven boards, and Abu Tratter added a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Aces improved to 4-3 in the conference.
After losing back-to-back games to open the tournament, they have now won four of their last five games.
But it was far from a comfortable win from the Aces, who took the Dyip's best punch and had to hold their breath in the final seconds as Eric Camson misfired on a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired.
"We discussed that this team is due for a win, and we were hoping that it doesn't happen against us," Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso. "But we expected them to come out and be aggressive as they did."
The Dyip were in control in the first half, leading by as much as 14 points. Buckets by Juami Tiongson and rookie Roosevelt Adams kept the Aces at bay, and TerraFirm took a 52-45 lead into the break.
But Alaska came alive in the third period, with Robbie Herndon sparking their comeback, while Abel Galliguez scored all of his nine points in the quarter to bring the Aces back in the game. A late bucket by CJ Perez knotted the count at 79 heading into the fourth frame, setting the table for a thrilling finish.
In the fourth period, Alaska's veterans stepped up. Manuel made a pair of key baskets inside the last five minutes to push his side ahead, 95-93. After Camson drained a triple to make it 96-95 in favor of TerraFirma, JVee Casio scored on a layup with a minute and a half to play to put Alaska ahead for good, 97-96.
"Once we made a couple of adjustments, we were able to calm down and execute," said Cariaso. "I'm happy the boys made adjustments in the second half."
Reigning Rookie of the Year Perez missed on two makeable layups in the final 30 seconds, including an attempt with 15 seconds left that saw him blow by former college teammate Jesper Ayaay, only to be met by Manuel at the rim.
TerraFirma still had a chance after Ayaay only made one of two free throws for a three-point lead, but Camson's triple attempt off a Perez pass hit iron and bounced off at the buzzer.
Perez finished with 25 points, four rebounds, and six assists, while Tiongson scored 21 points after making six of his eight attempts from beyond the arc. The rookie Adams finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
The Dyip dropped to 0-5 in the conference with the painful loss.
Late in the third quarter, Alaska's Rodney Brondial was ejected after incurring two technical fouls, first for a verbal exchange with TerraFirma's Jeepy Faundo, and then for second motion against Tiongson.