MANILA — In Renaldo Balkman’s last game in the PBA, Petron fell to Alaska in a match marred by his meltdown that led to his long ban in the league.
In his return, the Blaze Boosters, who now go by their old name San Miguel Beermen, lost to the Aces.
And it was Vic Manuel who spoiled the fun.
Manuel scored the buzzer-beating game-winner as Alaska pipped SMB, 105-103, at the Lamberto Macias Sports Complex in Dumaguete on Saturday night.
Manuel’s runner just as time expired helped the Aces preserve the win despite blowing a 22-point lead.
Alaska was up, 72-50, with 6:44 left in the third quarter when SMB began to crawl back to the game, eventually cutting the lead down to three, 90-87, with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter.
The Aces regrouped and stretched their lead back to seven, 100-93, with 4:56 remaining.
The Beermen, however, went on a 7-0 run to tie the game, 100-all, with 2:05 left, setting up a wild finish.
They had a chance to get the lead when Antonio Campbell made a split from the free throw line and Manuel turned the ball over, but Balkman only made one of two free throws too off a Campbell foul and the game was tied again, 101-all.
Manuel misfired a one-hander, but Calvin Abueva grabbed the offensive rebound and found Jvee Casio for the running shot that gave Alaska a 103-101 cushion with 56.9 seconds left.
Balkman answered with a quick layup that knotted the count once more at 103 with 52.9 seconds remaining.
The Aces muffed two chances to take the lead back, and Abueva, while going for a third serving, lost the ball to Marcio Lassiter, giving the Beermen a chance to go up.
Balkman, however, lost the ball while going for a penetration as Alaska was left with 19.2 seconds to go for the win.
Chris Banchero used a pick from Vic Manuel, but ended up getting double-teamed by Chris Standhardinger and Marcio Lassiter.
Good thing, he found Manuel, who drove into the lane and flicked the ball just in the nick of time.
Manuel made 23 points and five rebounds off the bench to once again lead Alaska, which moved up to 4-1, tying Rain Or Shine and TNT at the top of the standings.
Casio added 18 points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while Campbell (13 rebounds) and Abueva (12) posted 13-point double-doubles each.
Balkman’s PBA return netted him 32 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block, but he committed four turnovers as well and he only made 6-of-14 from the free throw line as SMB fell to 0-3.
Standhardinger continued to improve his game, drilling in 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting with six rebounds and one assist.
Alaska 105 – Manuel 23, Casio 18, Banchero 15, Campbell 13, Abueva 13, Racal 7, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 3, Teng 2, Pascual 0, Baclao 0.
San Miguel 103 – Balkman 32, Lassiter 20, Santos 12, Fajardo 7, Lanete 6, Cabagnot 4, Ross 0, Rosser 0, Heruela 0.
Quarters: 28-20, 57-43, 81-72, 105-103 PNA-northboundasia.com