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Alaska earns spot in semis, uses defense to dismantle Meralco



Alaska made use of suffocating defense to edge out Meralco in the knockout phase for a spot in the semis of the 2014 Philippine Cup. Vic Manuel led the way for his team with 17 points and nine rebounds on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting clip. Alaska had four players scoring in double digits, with Cyrus Baguio scoring 15, Dondon Hontiveros with 13, and JVee Casio contributing 11 points. John Wilson led Meralco with 16 points.

Alaska took an early 6-2 lead to start the first quarter, but back-to-back baskets from Meralco tied the game. That turned out to be the only bright spot for Meralco in the first quarter, as Alaska proceeded to go on a 16-2 blitz, capped by a Calvin Abueva fastbreak dunk. The Meralco drought finally ended with a jumper from Anjo Caram. The first quarter was capped by a triple from Hontiveros who gave his team a 15-point lead, 27-12.

Alaska shared the ball well in the first, with eight of their baskets coming off of assists. Their bench helped in padding the lead as well, contributing 12 points, equaling the total points scored by Meralco.

Ryan Buenafe made his presence known at the start of the second period, bagging a triple and cutting his team’s deficit to 12, 27-15. It looked like Meralco was on the verge of a comeback, but consecutive triples from Hontiveros, his 3rd and 4th triples of the game, pushed the lead back up to 14, 34-20. Things heated up close to the end of the period, as Rome Dela Rosa and Jared Dillinger were both given technical fouls. This seemed to motivate Alaska even more, as they went on a 9-2 run to end the quarter, finishing with a buzzer-beating one-handed three-point shot from Baguio. Alaska led by 22 points, 47-25 at the end of the first half.

After limiting Meralco to 12 points in the first, the Alaska defense held Meralco to 13 points in the second quarter, forcing them to put up 17 three-point attempts in the half. Alaska’s pressure forced Meralco to take well defended shot attempts and almost commit multiple 24-second violations.

Wilson came alive for Meralco in the third quarter, scoring the first three baskets for his team, as they managed to cut the deficit to 16. Alaska found themselves unable to make baskets for almost half of the third quarter, but while they were not able to convert on baskets, they were able to go to the free throw line and keep Meralco at bay. With Meralco clawing their way to cut the deficit to 13, RJ Jazul went on a five-point spurt that gave his team some breathing room, 63-46. But Meralco was able to close the quarter on a good note with a Sean Anthony layup and Gary David reverse to trim the lead to 14, 64-50.

Alaska started the fourth quarter on fire, with Manuel scoring on a reverse layup, Eric Menk making 2-of-2 free throws, and Banchero hitting a triple for a 7-0 Alaska run for a 21-point lead, 71-50. Meralco was able to trim the deficit to 13 again, with Anthony getting fouled on a basket and making the free throw, David scoring on a fastbreak, and Mike Cortez hitting a triple. Alaska started clamping down on defense, scoring on consecutive baskets and forcing Meralco to commit a five-second violation. Back-to-back baskets from Wilson were nullified by an eight-point spurt from Alaska. With time running down on the game clock, Meralco was unable to make another run. Alaska went on to win the game, 87-64.



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