MILLER-LED ACES ROUT SLR, HAND CONE ALL-STAR STINT
Record-tying 5th appearance for Alaska coach in annual classic
Sunday, 15 April 2007
The Alaska Aces earned coach Tim Cone a spot in the All-Star game.
Willie Miller warmed up early and led a strong start by Alaska in a 103-88 victory past the Sta. Lucia Realtors Sunday night in the 2007 Talk ‘N Text-PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.
The game seemed so easy for the Aces who outplayed the Realtors in key departments.
"It was one of those games when lots of things went right for us and a lot of things went wrong for Sta. Lucia," offered Cone. "We hit some really tough shots and they missed some easy ones. We're not 15 points better than they are but we played a real good game tonight.”
By winning their second straight game, the Aces closed out the first half of the elimination round with a 7-2 (win-loss) card, tying Barangay Ginebra and Red Bull on top of the standings.
It also secured Cone's stint in the league's mid-year spectacle as coach of the South All-Stars team that has Danny Seigle, Eric Menk, Dondon Hontveros, Asi Taulava and James Yap as starters. It will be Cone’s fifth stint in the annual classic, which will enable him to tie Sonny Jaworski and Derick Pumaren for most All-Star Game coaching jobs since the event was institutionalized in 1989.
The North All-Stars will be coached by Barangay Ginebra's Jong Uichico.
"When you coach the All-Star game it's about your record. It's not a popularity contest. And who's responsible for your record? It's your players. So this is an honor for our whole team," Cone said.
"The All-Star coaching is not really important for me. The important thing is that we won the basketball game because that pushes us to the top and that's the key, " he added.
Miller finished with 21 points, the same output tallied by import Rosell Ellis, who also had 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals as the Aces pounced on the Realtors off the boards, 52-44.
Miller, who shot 8-of-16, including 2-for-3 from the 3-point range, scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Aces took control early and never trailed after closing the quarter up 32-23.
Reserve guard Eddie Laure, slowly regaining his old deadly form, contributed 14 points, center Sonny Thoss also had 14, Jeffery Cariaso added 10 and Nic Belasco had 12 rebounds for the Aces, who shot 49 percent from the field.
Alaska has not had a championship in an import-laced conference since Devin Davis led the team to victory in the 1998 Commissioner's Cup.
But the Aces, under the leadership of Ellis, have made a good account of their ability to contend for the title this conference.
"I thought in the last couple of games after our loss to Air21, we've come out and made a statement defensively," Cone observe.
Rookie Kelly Williams led all scorers with 28 points but couldn't provide spark when the Realtors needed to get back in the game.
The Realtors struggled offensively all night, making just 39 percent of their shots.
Rookie head coach Boyet Fernandez rotated all his players but no one clicked. The only other Realtor in double digit was import Rock Winston, who tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds – numbers that didn't made a difference for the Realtors, who picked up their fourth loss in eight games. (DBC)
– Miller 21, Ellis 21, Thoss 14, Laure 14, Cariaso 10, Hugnatan 9, Belasco 9, Ferriols 5, Aban 0, Bajar 0, Juinio 0.
Sta. Lucia 88
– Williams 28, Winston 17, Miranda 9, Espino 8, Aquino 6, Omolon 5, Mendoza 5, Catli 3, Gonzales 3, Magsumbol 2, Isip 2, Bughao 0, Santos 0.
32-23, 55-45, 78-57, 103-88.