Big thanks to Chris Banchero, Alaska found a way out of a dire situation and stole Meralco’s thunder, 108-103, to book the eighth and last ticket to the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals Friday night at SM Mall of Asia Arena.
With the Bolts just mere 20.7 seconds away from the win as they held a 95-91 lead, Banchero played the spoiler’s role, hitting a trey before a tough turnaround jumper — after a Chris Newsome split — to send the game into overtime.
Vic Manuel, Jeron Teng, and Jvee Casio played their part during the extra period and gave the Aces a 107-103 cushion with 11.7 ticks left to play. Banchero then split his freebies in the last two seconds to fittingly finish things off.
“It was just big shots left and right,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton of the down-the-wire win. “This is a game where both teams could’ve rolled over and died. And I think we gave the PBA their first taste of playoff basketball.
“They left it all, in the floor, we left it all on the floor, we just hit a couple more shots,” added the outspoken mentor.
Manuel had 23 points in 24 minutes to lead the Aces, which had a total of six players finish in double figures.
Import Diamon Simpson registered yet another 20-20 outing with 20 points and 23 rebounds, along with five assists, three steals, in a block in nearly 42 minutes. This is his first win since coming back to the fold for Alaska.
Banchero flirted with a double-double as he finished with 15 points and nine assists, with four rebounds and a steal. Casio also filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, and a block without a turnover.
Simon Enciso and Teng finished with 13 and 12 markers, respectively, with the former adding four steals to his name.
With the victory, the Milkmen have forged a quarterfinal showdown with the top-seeded TNT KaTropa (10-1), who are armed with a twice-to-beat advantage. They will meet this Sunday, July 21, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco was led by import Delroy James, who produced 34 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Chris Newsome supplied 20 points, while Raymond Almazan had a double-double with 14 markers and 13 boards.
The Orangemen, who brought in three imports in this mid-season joust, ended their campaign with a 4-8 card.
Alaska 108 – Manuel 23, Simpson 20, Banchero 15, Casio 14, Enciso 13, Teng 12, Thoss 5, Racal 2, Pascual 2, Baclao 2.
Meralco 103 – James 34, Newsome 20, Almazan 14, Amer 8, Quinto 7, Pinto 6, Hodge 4, Faundo 4, De Ocampo 3, Jackson 3, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 26-28, 55-43, 68-66, 96-96, 108-103.
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