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PBA: Alaska pips RoS

AZ Reid against Alaska's Henry Walker and RJ Jazul.   Photo by Tony PIonilla

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5 p.m. – San Mig Super Coffee vs Talk ’N Text
Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Colisem)
6 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Alaska

Manila, Philippines – Alaska avenged its embarrassing 51-point loss to Rain or Shine in the elimination round with a 97-93 victory to draw first blood in the PLDT Home Telpad Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup semifinals last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Using their 123-72 setback to the Elasto Painters last June 4 as motivation, the Aces leaned on import Henry Walker, who scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, to seize a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

Walker’ gave Alaska a 95-93 lead on a turnaround shot over Jireh Ibanes with 49.3 seconds, before intercepting the inbound pass intended for Jeff Chan, who fouled him with three ticks remaining.

The former NBA campaigner calmly hit both free throws to seal the final tally.

The 6-foot-5 Walker shot 12 of 23 from the field and made 7 of 8 foul shots. He also had seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in 35 minutes.

“I thought Henry was great down the stretch. He used his size to his advantage,” Alaska rookie Coach Alex Compton said of Walker.

Sonny Thoss contributed 16 points with eight rebounds for the Aces, while sophomore forward Vic Manuel added 14 points and eight boards.

Alaska can take a commanding 2-0 lead tomorrow, also at the Big Dome.

“Finally we got them, but only for this game. I thought we did a good job defensively, and we got some stops. But as much as we don’t talk about that 51-point loss, at least our guys know we can win against this team,” added Compton.

The loss snapped the six-game winning run of the Painters, who actually led 93-88 on a basket by Arizona Reid with 3:59 to play.

But Rain or Shine went cold the rest of the way to suffer a heartbreaking defeat.

Reid finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul Lee contributed 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point territory but committed six of the team’s 15 turnovers. Chan added 14 markers.

Meanwhile, San Mig Super Coffee is bracing for another heated showdown with Talk ‘N Text as the two teams clash in Game 2 of their best-of-five semifinal showdown today at the Big Dome.

Through the combined efforts of point guard Mark Barroca, power forward Marc Pingris, San Mig managed to pull off a 92-88 overtime victory opposite TNT for a 1-0 lead last Thursday. (Waylon Galvez)