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Sizzling fourth quarter propels Alaska to a 2-0 series lead over Star



The top-seeded Alaska Aces showcased an impressive second half offensively and defensively as they pulled away in a 95-74 win against Star and now move with one win away from booking a finals seat in the PBA Governor’s Cup held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.

It was a good start offensively for the two teams at they drained three of their first four shots and tie the game at 7 in the early minutes. However, Alaska broke the deadlock with two straight possessions with great ball movement that led to a 5-0 spurt capped by a triple by JVee Casio. Early on, Star went on feeding Marqus Blakely underneath who was aggressive against his counterpart reinforcement to chip in points from the paint.

After a timeout, Mick Pennisi nailed a three and three transition baskets gave Star a 9-0 answer and lead 19-12. Alaska’s second unit struggled in executing the offense with early turnovers that favored Star to build another lead similar to Game 1 of this series. On the other end, Calvin Abueva scored two inside stabs plus a buzzer-beating triple to stop the scoring drought and build an 11-3 rally and tie things up at 23 after 12 minutes.

Things started to become physical and chippy underneath between the team’s bigs, that slowed down the pace of the game with all the fouls done in the early minutes of the second. The reinsertion of Romeo Travis was productive as the import drained three straight mid-range jumpers to give Star a 35-29 lead. Afterwards, Star managed to tie things up at 37 but perimeter jumpers by Travis and Abueva added to two trifectas from the corner by Ping Exciminiano shattered the deadlock anew for the Aces just before the half expired.

A slow start to the third was displayed by the Hotshots as they only scored six points in the first seven minutes of the period. However, they fished for Calvin Abueva’s fifth personal foul with still about a full and a half quarter to go. Meanwhile, Alaska’s jumpers played zone-busters as a long two by Dondon Hontiveros made it a 57-50 lead.

Since then, Star only scored eight points until the end of the period while the bench players of Alaska were firing hot from the perimeter. Noy Baclao nailed two while Chris Banchero beat the third quarter buzzer with his own to give the Aces a 13-point separation after the third.

Keeping the sizzling shooting alive, Dondon Hontiveros buried a triple to open up the last period of play. The Aces were also able to maintain the double-digit edge until the 8:25 mark wherein PJ Simon’s long shot made it 76-68 and keeping Star comeback hopes possible. Despite Simon waxing hot on Star’s end, the Aces were still draining jumper after jumper that extended their lead to their biggest in the fourth.

Alaska shot the rock 53.8%, way better than the Hotshots’ 38.2% clip. In addition, they doubled the second chance points by Star, 14-7. Travis led 4 Aces who tallied double figures in scoring with 19 points to go with his 14 rebounds and three steals.

The Aces look to close this series out on Sunday, 5pm still at the Big Dome.

The Scores:

Alaska (95) – Travis 19, Abueva 11, Baclao 10, Exciminiano 10, Banchero 9, Manuel 9, Hontiveros 8, Baguio 8, Casio 7, Dela Rosa 0, Jazul 0

Star (74) – Blakely 19, Simon 17, Yap 10, Mallari 8, Pingris 7, Pennisi 5, Barroca 3, Melton 3, Devance 2, Taha 0, Maliksi 0

Quarters: 23-23, 47-41, 71-58, 95-74