Down by as much as 16, the top-seeded Alaska Aces turned the game around late in the second half, as they ended up winning and eliminating the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel, 114-108, to advance to the PBA Governor’s Cup semis, to be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
Ginebra trailed by seven early on at 11-4, but the eighth-seeded Kings went on to build a 12-0 rampage in the first quarter including back-to-back three-point plays by LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado. In the process, the Kings also fished for Romeo Travis’ second personal foul in the opening minutes of the game. Also, by getting the crowd support early, Ginebra gained a five point lead with defensive stops piling up, and Sol Mercado knocking down a trey to make it 19-14.
Despite nursing foul issues, Travis went on to finish majority of the first quarter, but Ginebra kept on pushing in transition as Mercado once again scored, becoming the first player to score double digits in this game. Calvin Abueva started the scoring spree from the second unit players for both teams, but Jiwan Kim and the rest of the Ginebra squad ended the first period up by four.
Abueva and RJ Jazul provided five fast points that enabled Alaska to tie the game at 32 in two minutes into the second quarter. However, Ginebra was quick to respond as their two reinforcements punched in a trifecta and a powerful three-point play to pull away by six again. The Aces’ second unit struggled to score from the perimeter, while Orlando Johnson kept on pounding the rock inside to increase their lead to double digits.
Alaska entered the penalty situation as Ginebra led by 11 with over four minutes to play in the first half. They increased it to a dozen, but Chris Banchero and Travis combined for four points in the dying seconds to slice the lead down to single digits, heading into the halftime break. At the end of 24 minutes, Ginebra was shooting nearly 49% from the field compared to Alaska’s subpar 32%.
Four minutes into the third quarter, the Kings went flying in and built a 16 point cushion completed by a three-point play by Japeth Aguilar. During the stretch, Alaska struggled as they missed six out of their first eight attempts that caused the lead to swell, while their scoring also slowed down. Travis was a one-man wrecking crew for his squad as he carried the load offensively for the Aces in the first nine minutes of the third. By the 3:48 mark of the third, Johnson and Abueva wrestled for position underneath that led to several extracurriculars as the game started to heat up.
After a series of technical fouls, the defensive pressure started to work for Alaska as it led to multiple fast-break points in their end. They made a 14-3 run including eight points with two threes by Dondon Hontiveros. They eventually outscored the Kings by ten during the period, 32-22 and led entering the fourth and final quarter.
In the fourth, Alaska gained momentum that helped them maintain the advantage, and even increased the score to 91-84 with under eight minutes left in regulation. Vic Manuel played huge at the start of the fourth period, as he scored timely baskets inside despite starting the game cold off the bench. The locals also delivered on the defensive end as Ginebra got cold in shooting from distance. Meanwhile, Cyrus Baguio scored to make it a dozen point game, which left the Kings rattled and stunned with the turnaround done by the Aces.
Down by 13, Ginebra tried to save its season for the last time with under two minutes to go with Johnson draining three 3-pointers late. However, Chris Banchero, Vic Manuel, and JVee Casio punched in the game-sealing baskets and free throws to keep the Kings at late, and more importantly, propel their team to the semis.
Travis ended up with 29 points and grabbing 21 rebounds to go with six assists and three blocked shots. Alaska also had 49 points from their bench players compared to Ginebra’s 11. Johnson topped Ginebra with 28, while Sol Mercado had a fine last outing with 21 points and seven dimes.
Alaska (114) – Travis 29, Thoss 14, Manuel 14, Hontiveros 13, Baguio 10, Banchero 9, Abueva 8, Casio 7, Dela Rosa 5, Jazul 3, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Menk 0
Ginebra (108) – Johnson 28, Mercado 21, Slaughter 19, Tenorio 14, Kim 5, Baracael 4, Marcelo 2, Pena 0, Monfort 0, Brondial 0
Quarterscores: 27-31, 45-53, 77-75, 114-108
*Photo from PBA Images
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