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PBA: Alaska holds off NLEX

Alaska's Cyrus Baguio drives to the basket from a pick set-up by teammate Vic Manuel against Erick Camson, as KG Canaleta and Rico Villanueva looks on during PBA action at Smart Araneta Coliseum.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Game Today (Binan, Laguna)
5 p.m. – Blackwater vs TNT

Manila, Philippines – Alaska does have a pair of Aces up its sleeves – Dondon Hontiveros and Calvin Abueva.

Hontiveros unloaded 18 of his team-high 21 points in the second half and Alaska used a closing 16-3 run to turn back NLEX, 90-84, last night and grab solo leadership in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With their eighth win in nine games, the Aces briefly disengaged from erstwhile co-leader San Miguel although the Beermen can seize a share of the top spot with a victory over Meralco later in the evening.

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds after the elimination round get automatic byes to the best-of-7 semifinals.

Alaska trailed for most of the last 24 minutes and looked headed for its second loss. But Hontiveros completed a rare 4-point play off Mark Borboran, sparking a 14-2 run that sent the Road Warriors on another hearbreaking meltdown.

For a consecutive game, NLEX failed to hang on to an endgame lead as it dropped out of the race for twice-to-beat slots in the quarterfinal playoffs with a 3-6 slate.

And that’s not even the bad news.

With the recent development, Kia Motors, previously believed to be knocked out of contention, got a sudden shot in the arm should the Sorento win their last two games and NLEX drop theirs. The two teams then dispute the 10th and last slot on Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, Grand Slam champion Talk n Text eyes solo fourth place, going for a sixth win against three losses as the Tropang Texters clash with winless Blackwater Elite in the Petron Blaze Saturday Special in Binan, Laguna at 5 p.m. today.

“Our scouting report showed that they’re the highest field-goal shooting team. Asi Taulava’s having double-double games, and guys like Jonas Villanueva and Macmac Cardona are playing very well. And so we had a lot of things in mind,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.

Late in the night, San Miguel Beer trounced Meralco, 88-77, behind June Mar Fajardo’s 21 points.

ALASKA 90 – Hontiveros 21, Abueva 16, Baguio 11, Thoss 11, Casio 11, Manuel 8, Jazul 7, Banchero 3, Exciminiano 2, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Bugia 0, Menk 0, Dela Cruz 0.

NLEX 84 – Borboran 22, Cardona 14, Villanueva J. 13, Taulava 10, Villanueva E. 9, Arboleda 6, Ramos 4, Canaleta 2, Camson 2, Arboleda 2, Hermida 0, Raymundo 0, Apinan 0, Baloria 0.

Quarters: 23-15, 40-42, 55-58, 90-84

SAN MIGUEL 88 – Fajardo 21, Pascual 15, Santos 15, Tubid 10, Mercado 8, Kramer 5, Maierhofer 4, Lutz 4, Omolon 4, Ross 2, Fortuna 0, Lassiter 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0.

MERALCO 77 – Hodge 19, Dillinger 13, Ildefonso 9, David 8, Macapagal 8, Anthony 7, Cortez 5, Buenafe 3, Wilson 2, Sena 2, Ferriols 1, Atkins 0, Caram 0, Guevarra 0.

Quarterscores: 22-24, 44-34, 72-59, 88-77