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Enhanced positions

Jeron Teng squeezes in a left-handed reverse off KG Canaleta. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

At four wins and having played nine games, the playoffs are hardly guaranteed for Alex Compton and the Alaska Aces.

You wouldn’t guess so by the way he relished Wednesday night’s 92-77 victory over Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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“Huge win for us, honestly,” Compton said.

“Kung natalo kami kanina, naka ano … Boracay tayong lahat?” he added, alluding to the vacation spot that is a euphemism for getting eliminated from the playoff race.

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Historically, chief league statistician Fidel Mangonon III said it takes seven losses with the current tournament format to hit the road. That’s the defeat total the Aces pinned on the Bolts Wednesday night after a hot start that cushioned a shaky middle and gave way to a flourishing finish.

In the second game, Magnolia also gave its playoff hopes a big boost with a 103-90 victory over NorthPort to tie Alaska at 4-5.

The Hotshots turned up the defensive intensity in the second half, limiting the Batang Pier to just 31 points after surrendering 59 in the first two quarters of the match.

While Alaska staved off being pushed to the edge of elimination, Compton knows that he may need to go two-for-two in his last two games to book a slot to the next round. That’s why he kept himself to celebrating the minor victories—in a tournament that has been particularly testy for the storied franchise.

Like delisting two more players from the injury ranks.

“Obviously for me and the whole team, it’s nice to have [JVee Casio] and [Kevin Racal] back,” Compton said. “They are obviously a little rusty and out of shape but I thought JVee came in and made some plays and K-Racs made some plays in the way he usually does—knocking down some open shots and being a really good defender.”

Jeron Teng (16 points, seven rebounds, 7-of-7 from the stripe) fueled Alaska’s fast start as the Aces roared to a 13-3 lead early.

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“I’m just really happy to get the win,” Compton said. .”

The feeling was fleeting though, as Compton was reminded of the team’s next assignment: defending champion San Miguel Beer on March 24.

“That’s the team you could play great against and still not win,” Compton said, jokingly chiding a reporter for bringing up his next game. “Like, you can be great and still not beat San Miguel. That’s how good they are.”

The scores:

First Game

ALASKA 92—Teng 16, Enciso 14, Banchero 13, Thoss 13, Casio 12, Racal 9, Cruz 7, Pascual 6, Baclao 2, Exciminiano 0, Ayaay 0.

MERALCO 77—Salva 23, Canaleta 18, Newsome 11, Amer 8, Quinto 5, Tolomia 4, Hodge 3, Hugnatan 2, Pinto 2, Jackson 1, Caram 0, Faundo 0.

Quarters: 20-16, 45-38, 69-57, 92-77.

Second Game

MAGNOLIA 103—Lee 24, Sangalang 20, Brondial 14, Jalalon 11, Barroca 11, Melton 11, Dela Rosa 5, Reavis 5, Herndon 2, Pascual 0.

NORTHPORT 90—Anthony 22, Tautuaa 19, Pringle 15, Grey 14, Lanete 8, Guinto 4, Elorde 3, Bolick 3, Taha 2, Gabayni 0, Sollano 0.

Quarters: 33-25, 53-59, 76-82, 103-90.

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