The Alaska Aces will march on to their first Finals in over two years, as they finished off the Meralco Bolts, 99-92, in Game Four of the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals, Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Free throws by Mike Harris, Kevin Racal, and Simon Enciso inside the final 1:01 shut the door on the Bolts. Meralco had knocked within just three points after going down by 10, 76-86, with less than four minutes to go.
“I’m so proud of my guys. I’m so proud of my guys. We’re not perfect but we played hard. Just so proud of them,” said an emotional Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “There’s a reason why we’re a team … I’m just so proud.”
Harris paced the Milkmen with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Jvee Casio produced 14 points. Racal and fellow forwards Jeron Teng and Vic Manuel chimed in 10 markers each on a combined 10-of-17 shooting.
Harris have already given his side a comfortable 86-76 cushion through a pair of freebies with 3:55 remaining in the final frame, but the Bolts came back strong and inched close, 87-90, after an Allen Durham bucket with 1:27 to go.
But the Bolts failed to get even closer, as Harris sank another pair of his charities with 1:01 left. Meralco were unable to buy a basket afterwards, and both Racal and Enciso made their foul shots to widen their lead to nine with 36 ticks left.
Durham and Garvo Lanete still tried their best to will Meralco back. They managed to lift their team to within five with less than 20 seconds left, but time wasn’t on their side. Racal sank another pair of free throws to seal the deal.
Durham led Meralco with 31 points and 14 rebounds in the loss. Reynel Hugnatan had 13 points, while Chris Newsone made 12 points, nine boards, and seven assists. Nico Salva and Baser Amer chipped in 10 markers apiece.
This will be the first Governors’ Cup Finals in two years that will not feature either Meralco and Barangay Ginebra.
Alaska will face the Magnolia Hotshots in the best-of-seven bout for the title, which will start on December 5.
Alaska 99 – Harris 27, Casio 14, Racal 10, Teng 10, Manuel 10, Banchero 9, Enciso 7, Thoss 4, Baclao 4, Pascual 4, Exciminiano 0, Potts 0.
Meralco 92 – Durham 31, Hugnatan 13, Newsome 12, Salva 10, Amer 10, Caram 7, Lanete 7, Hodge 2, Faundo 0, Dillinger 0, Canaleta 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarterscores: 21-28, 47-48, 68-60, 99-92.
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