Manila, Philippines – The Alaska Aces took a 2-1 lead over Rain or Shine in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series last night, forging an extremely physical 94-78 victory fashioned over a combined 53 fouls at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao was banished after getting a second technical halfway in the third quarter after Cyrus Baguio drove an elbow at Paul Lee. E-Painters center Beau Belga followed Guiao to the shower a couple of minutes after also with a second T.
Alaska was awarded an astonishing 44 free throws, hitting 29, while Rain or Shine received 24 charities, missing but three.
“I thought our defense was really good and is sort of the key for us this conference,” said Aces coach Alex Compton.
Calvin Abueva led the Aces with 28 points and 14 rebounds, getting up from an elbow he received in the neck from JR Quinahan and a body slam he absorbed from Belga, a contact which threw Abueva back and caused the back of his head to hit Ryan Arana, Belga’s teammate, in the mouth.
The Aces used a 17-2 run in the first quarter to open a 24-12 after 12 minutes, the first time in the series Alaska wasn’t eating dust in pursuit of the run-and-gun Elasto Painters.
Alaska trailed by 17 points in the second quarter in a Game 1 fightback and by 19 in a Game 2 setback. But with ROS shooting 5 of 20 from the floor, including 0 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc, the Aces built up momentum early, getting 17 free throws and making 12.
The lead went up to 42-27 at the half, a low-scoring production for both teams which combined for 0 of 24 in rainbow shots. But while the Aces found ways to go around their cold shooting, taking the battle inside and getting to the free throw line, the E-Painters groped for their lost form.
Alaska looks to gain a commanding 3-1 series lead over Rain or Shine on Christmas Day at the same venue.
On that day, the league will give PBA fans a special treat by opening the general admission section of the Mall of Asia Arena for free.
Admission is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
PBA Commissioner Chito Salud and PBA board Chairman Patrick Gregorio said the treat is a way of thanking fans for all their support and loyalty over the past 40 years.
“Paanyaya at pasasalamat sa mga fans ng PBA sa apat na dekadang pagsasama at pagsuporta. Sama-sama tayong mag Pasko,” said Salud.
“Nais po namin sa PBA board na magpasalamat sa ating mga basketball fans. This special free tickets offer is for all of you our beloved fans. Bring the family on Christmas Day,” said Gregorio.