by Waylon Galvez
Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
8 p.m. – Alaska vs Meralco (playoff for No. 8)
PBA D-League Games Today (JCGSO Gym, Quezon City)
2 p.m. – NU-BDO vs Cagayan Valley
4 p.m. – NLEX vs Cebuana Lhuillier
Manila, Philippines – Alaska pulled off a courageous 89-80 victory over Barako Bull yesterday and forced a sudden-death playoff for the last quarterfinal berth with Meralco as the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup elimination round came to a close at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
JVee Casio had 24 points, five rebounds and seven assists while Gabby Espinas contributed 21 points and nine rebounds as the Aces snapped a three-game losing skid to end the elims at 5-9 and force a four-way tie for sixth to ninth spots with Barako Bull, Globalport and Meralco.
However, the Energy Colas (1.06) and Batang Pier (1.01) clinched outright quarterfinal spots as the sixth and seventh quarterfinalists for having superior quotients, leaving the Aces (0.96) and the Bolts (0.95) to slug it out for the eighth and last quarterfinal slot.
Alaska and Meralco will dispute that last spot at 8 tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The winner of the playoff will have a tough task since it will face top seed and twice-to-beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Wednesday, same day that No. 2 Rain or Shine – also with the quarterfinal bonus – will meet No. 7 Globalport.
“We live to fight another day,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo. “It’s been painful this conference for us, out of nine games (losses) six games could’ve gone either way. It’s just finding ourselves, but we’re thankful for the lessons learned.”
“It’s a real nice opportunity for us… players dream of this kind of situation where you can turn things around. We’re playing Meralco, a team that’s hungry. Like I’ve said, we’re thankful for an opportunity to enter the quarters and earn it,” added Trillo.
Alaska and Meralco split their head-to-head games this conference, with the Aces winning 91-82 in the first encounter before the Bolts rebounded with a 74-65 victory that was marred by a scuffle between Alaska sophomore forward Calvin Abueva and Meralco veteran forward Jared Dillinger last Jan. 10.
Abueva and Dillinger were later fined P10,000 each with the latter paying an additional P3,000 for flopping after PBA Commissioner Chito Salud upgraded their technical fouls to a Flagrant Foul 1 each.
Alaska could have avoided the knockout game if it won by at least 23 points, which was actually within reach when RJ Jazul’s three-pointer gave the Aces an 87-72 lead with 3:09 left to play. But Barako Bull answered with an 8-0 run to make it 87-80 with 1:08 remaining in the game.
In the second game, defending three-time champion Talk ’N Text finished its elimination round assignment with 103-79 rout of Ginebra.
The Tropang Texters clinched the No. 4 seed with an 8-6 card and will face No. 5 San Mig Super Coffee in the other quarterfinal series which is a best-of-three affair.