The Alaska Aces did not waste their win-once incentive to get into the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals, as they flexed their muscles and dominated rivals San Miguel Beermen, 96-85, Wednesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Alaska started to make it their own show in the third canto by turning to their bread-and-butter that is defense, stifling the dreaded San Miguel to just seven points in the frame alone for a 64-49 lead heading into the fourth chapter.
They would lead by as much as 21, 75-54, with less than nine minutes left.
The Aces – who once blew a 3-0 Finals lead to San Miguel two years ago – have avenged their loss to the Beermen back in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup semis, where they were swept in the best-of-five series.
“We really did not want to play them in Friday … We talked about today as a knockout game. We have to win today,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “Am I happy that we beat San Miguel in the playoffs? Yes I am. I’m ecstatic.”
Best Import award frontrunner Mike Harris had 25 points and 17 rebounds to set the pace for the Milkmen.
The locals also made their mark in the victory, with Simon Enciso leading the way with 15 points. Forward Vic Manuel provided 14 points on 50 percent shooting alongside six rebounds, while Jeron Teng had 10 and five boards.
Kevin Murphy led the Beermen – who were also booted out in last season’s Governors’ Cup in the quarters at the hands of eventual two-time champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel – with 19 points, eight boards, and five assists.
Best Player of the Conference race leader Christian Standhardinger produced 18 points, 12 in the fourth quarter alone, and 11 rebounds. Marcio Lassiter chipped in 14 markers and eight caroms.
Alaska will now wait for the winner of the Meralco Bolts-Phoenix Fuel Masters series for their semis opponent. The Bolts and the Fuel Masters will figure in a do-or-die affair this Friday, November 9, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska 96 – Harris 25, Enciso 15, Manuel 14, Teng 9, Baclao 6, Exciminiano 6, Casio 5, Thoss 4, Banchero 2.
San Miguel 85 – Murphy 19, Standhardinger 18, Lassiter 14, Santos 8, Nabong 8, Cabagnot 6, Fajardo 6, Ross 4, Heruela 2.
Quarterscores: 23-19, 43-42, 64-49, 96-85.
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