Yesterday, the Alaska Aces ended a painful 14-game losing streak with a 90-79 game against the Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beermen at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center Gym.
The energy inside the venue was intense; not only was this a battle between two of the PBA’s oldest, most beloved franchises, this was a showdown between two of Angeles City’s favorite sons: the Aces’ Calvin “The Beast” Abueva and the Beermen’s Arwind Santos.
The Aces ended the first quarter strong, applying an uncharacteristically tight defense to keep the Beermen down by nine points going into the second. Santos scored a team high of 29 points over the next two periods, bringing the Beermen within three points of closing the gap in the third.
Ultimately, the Beermen were unable to overcome a Never Quit Squad that had found it’s footing, as LaDontae Henton, Abueva, and Jvee Casio widened the Aces’ lead going into the fourth, while Sonny Thoss contributed 12 points.
Ironically, debuting Beermen import Terik Bridgeman (brought in to bolster San Miguel’s bid for a Grand Slam) proved ineffectual, only managing to score one of four attempts over 21 minutes of play.
The Alaska win not only ended a drought that began in April, but also put an end to an 8-loss streak against the Beermen in particular.
Representing the Aces’ Never Quit spirit, Calvin Abueva is one of the most dynamic players in the league, earning the nickname,”The Beast” during his varsity days.
As two of the most popular teams in the league, the rivalry between Alaska and San Miguel goes back to 1995, when the Aces (then known as the Milkmen) came from behind in a 2-3 Finals standing to beat the Beermen for the Governor’s Cup.
Now, 22 years later, the situation is quite different, with San Miguel once again gunning for a Grand Slam, and Alaska seeking redemption as the Aces standing at 1-6 for the current conference. Though Alaska is still a long way from becoming serious contenders for the Governor’s Cup, the morale boost from yesterday’s win is immeasurable. And if they can leverage that victory into some sort of momentum, then the losing streak that preceded it could very well end up as the prelude to one of the greatest sporting stories of our time.