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Jefferson earns Alaska’s trust

THE 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup has seen some outstanding performances by this year’s batch of big imports. The best performance so far has been submitted by this conference’s likely best import in Cory Jefferson of the Alaska Aces.

Jefferson is averaging a league-best 31.8 points ahead of fellow imports James White (30.5) of the Mahindra Floodbuster, Shawn Taggart (29.0) of defending champion Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters, Wayne Chism (28.2) of the NLEX Road Warriors (28.2) and Greg Smith (26.8) of the Blackwater Elite.

Jefferson started the conference with a bang as he gave his team a big lift at the offensive end when the Aces posted a rousing 107-79 rout of the GlobalPort Batang Pier during their first game on March 18.

Jefferson scored from everywhere as he sniped from three-point distance, drove strong to the paint and even finished with a rim-rattling dunk en route to a game-high 28 points.

Alaska Aces import Cory Jefferson (34) protects the basketball against three GlobalPort Batang Pier defenders, from left: Stanley Pringle, Billy Mamaril and KG Canaleta.

The Aces grabbed a share of the lead in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup when Jefferson led his team to a decisive, 109-95, victory over the Blackwater Elite on March 22.

The Aces mauled the Elite at the defensive end, forcing one turnover after another, then torched them at the offensive end with fastbreak attacks and crisp outside shooting.

Jefferson led the Alaska assault against Blackwater. He was unstoppable as he scored from outside and drove into the paint to score on inside incursions. He finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds as he towed Alaska to victory.

Jefferson again led all scorers when the Aces rumbled to their third consecutive victory this conference with a wire-to-wire 98-92 victory over the Mahindra Floodbuster last March 29.

In Alaska’s last game the Aces lost a big lead but came back strong behind the masterful playmaking of Jvee Casio and the blazing outside shooting of Jefferson. The Aces overhauled a four-point deficit with a little over a minute to go to post a come-from-behind 105-102 victory over Rain Or Shine on April 2.

Meralco Bolts import Alex Stepheson (33) rips down the rebound in traffic against a pair of TNT Ka Tropa players.

Casio set up Alaska’s final offensive plays with the Aces trailing by four points, 93-97, with 1:51 left to play. Casio found Jefferson who drained a pressure-packed triple. Casio then dished to Sonny Thoss who scored on a layup as Alaska forged ahead, 98-97. The Aces went to post the victory.

Jefferson played college basketball for Baylor University where he averaged 13.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his senior year. He then represented the United States at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.

He is among the most credentialed import to ever don an Alaska jersey. He played for the Brooklyn Nets (2014-2015) and the Phoenix Suns (2015-2016) in the National Basketball Association.

He also had stops with the Maine Red Claws, the Bakersfield Jam and the Austin Spurs in the NBA Development League. He played so well that on February 6, 2017, he was named to the Western Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA D-League All-Star Game.

Jefferson was actually Alaska’s third choice and got the call to play for the Aces after Octavius Ellis, who was already in the Philippines practicing with the team, went home to attend to “family matters.”

Alaska not getting either of their first two choices for import has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Third choice or not Jefferson has led the Aces to four consecutive victories and the top of the standings.

Topics: 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup , Cory Jefferson , Alaska Aces
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