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PBA: Last Dance comes to a close as Alaska bows to NLEX


There’s definitely a much better way to bid goodbye. But it’s just too unfortunate that Alaska wasn’t blessed with the opportunity to do so.

On Saturday night, the Aces saw the end of the line as they lost to NLEX, 96-80, in the 2021-22 Governors’ Cup quarterfinals at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The storied franchise surely would’ve wanted to pull off an encore of Wednesday’s success that led to the rubber match. However, the Road Warriors were just too much, and the music to their last dance stopped abruptly.

It was a bitter end to their 36-year tenure in Asia’s pioneering pro league, but the club’s faithful that trooped to the Big Dome decided to look at it as some sort of celebration for the lasting memories they’ve created over that span.

Well, even though they lost, confetti rained inside the venue. And after team governor Dickie Bachmann’s address, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial then expressed his thanks before pressing the final buzzer on the 14-time champs.

And, the ever-recognizable “Wala pa ring tatalo sa Alaska” tune was played, as the league paid tribute to one of the most successful sports teams.

“In behalf of the PBA family, ang PBA fans at ang basketball community, maraming, maraming salamat, Alaska,” said the league chieftain.

NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao also tipped his hat to Alaska for being dragged into a do-or-die. “They stretched us to the limit,” he said. “We felt that after our first meeting, we did not really anticipate that we would win by a double-digit margin this time. We just came prepared to play defense this second time we met them — actually third time this conference.”

The Road Warriors were led by the 24 points and eight rebounds of Cameron Clark in the victory that saw them lead by as many as 24.

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Kris Rosales and JR Quinahan produced 12 points apiece. Justin Chua and Matt Nieto added 10 markers apiece in the balanced attack.

With the win, NLEX has forged a best-of-five semifinal affair with reigning champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel starting on March 23, Wednesday, 6:00 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

“As soon as we knew that we were going to come out and win, nung bandang patapos na yung fourth quarter, pumasok na sa isip ko yung Ginebra. From one hard series to another that is probably more difficult,” Guiao said.

Alaska, meanwhile, was led by import Mark St. Fort with 14 points and seven rebounds in the defeat. Jeron Teng finished with 13 points, while Mike DiGregorio and Mike Tolomia added 11 markers apiece.

“I think this is also a blessing in its own way. Now we could only talk about all the good stuff about Alaska because eventually it’s gonna happen. We’re here, and now we move forward like I said,” said coach Jeff Cariaso.

The Scores:

NLEX 96 – Clark 24, Quinahan 12, Rosales 12, Chua 10, Nieto 10, Trollano 9, Alas 7, Soyud 7, Varilla 3, Ighalo 2, Murrell 0, Paniamogan 0, Semerad 0.

Alaska 80 – St. Fort 14, Teng 13, DiGregorio 11, Tolomia 11, Bulanadi 8, Taha 8, Tratter 6, Ilagan 5, Ahanmisi 4, Racal 0, Faundo 0.

Quarterscores: 21-20, 46-31, 71-52, 96-80

All PBA games stream live on GigaPlay. Download it now on Android or IOS.

The second game of each playdate is also livestreamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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