Squandering a 20-point lead against a furious rally set up by Alaska in the last ten minutes of the game, Purefoods survived and came up with a 96-89 victory to eliminate the Aces and set a date with the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the next round of the PBA Playoffs held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Way different from their start compared to Game 1, Alaska weathered the early 6-0 start by Denzel Bowles in the ball game. The Aces made it a close encounter in the first period as Calvin Abueva and Damion James started to hit their mid range jumpers while also playing the passing lanes on the other end. Purefoods led by the majority of the first but their turnovers haunted them early from pulling away in this match.
The Aces settled for a full-court press during the last half of the opening frame that made the Star Hotshots get their offense from the perimeter. James, however, kept charging into the Purefoods defense to get himself to the foul stripe. He gave Alaska their first lead at 21-20, but Purefoods countered with a 10-0 finishing kick in the first to give the Star Hotshots the lead.
In the second, Devance continued his tremendous start in the game as he knocked down his fourth shot from downtown while Alex Mallari also converted on layups. Triples from RJ Jazul and Dondon Hontiveros tried to salvage some points for Alaska but Purefoods retained the lead all throughout. The Aces tried to deny Bowles from imposing his inside game as he became a jump shooter in the second.
This paid dividends for Alaska as not all shots would fall late in the period for Purefoods while all the rebounds for the Aces were a starting point for their running transition game that inched them closer to the match 44-43. Just before the first half buzzer sounded, Bowles drained in an isolation pull-up jumper to stop the scoring drought.
Alaska entered the penalty situation with 7:23 left in the third that helped Purefoods extend their gap. With Bowles seemingly present everywhere in both defense and offense, the scoring became easier for his local teammates as James Yap banked in a triple to give the Star Hotshots a double-digit edge, 57-46.
The Aces sliced the gap to four with Abueva’s freethrows at 59-53 but Purefoods quickly countered with a 9-2 run including a triple from Allain Maliksi and inside stabs from Bowles. Purefoods’ defense also stood tall as they limited Alaska’s offensive production to a only two points in the last 4:49 of the quarter to enter the final period up by 15 points.
The bench players continued to score for the Star Hotshots as Mark Barroca drained in a triple to make it a 20-point spread. But this huge lead was sliced by the starters of the Aces with Abueva and James anchoring the last run for Alaska. Purefoods offense became stagnant as Jazul drilled in another triple to pull within single digits, 88-80 with about three minutes to go.
Down by four, James drove to the rim but lost the ball that led to a Marc Pingris under goal stab on the other end to stop the three-minute scoreless stretch for Purefoods. The Star Hotshots made the necessary stops on the other end while Barroca drained the clinching freethrows for the victory.
Despite the Aces having more assists 26-20, Purefoods drained in 23 out of their 28 free throws compared to 12 for Alaska.
Bowles had a game high 32 points, 11 rebounds and four rejections. While Alaska’s leading contributor was Jazul with 22 markers off the bench including 6 out of 8 from downtown.
Purefoods (96) – Bowles 32, Devance 16, Barroca 14, Yap 11, Mallari 7, Pingris 6, Maliksi 6, Simon 3, Melton 1, Reavis 0, Pennisi 0
Alaska (89) – Jazul 22, James 21, Abueva 14, Casio 10, Thoss 8, Baguio 7, Banchero 3, Manuel 2, Hontiveros 2, Exciminiano 0, Menk 0, Dela Cruz 0, Baclao 0
Quarters: 30-21,46-43, 70-55, 96-89