Defending champion Purefoods Star survived Alaska’s late game rally to eke out a 96-89 win and book a spot in the semifinal round of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Former Best Import winner Denzel Bowles helped power the Hotshots advance to the next round with another solid all-around show – scoring 32 points and grabbing 11 boards.
Though they dominated the game, the Hotshots experienced scary moments in the payoff period as Alaska – through the efforts of RJ Jazul, Calvin Abueva and import Damion James – rallied to within four points, 88-84, from a deficit of 20, 75-55.
Purefoods veteran forward Marc Pingris, however, eased the tension with a power play before sealing the win with six charities, including four from Mark Barroca as the Hotshots completed a two-game sweep of their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Purefoods, however, will have a heavier assignment in the semis where it will face No. 2 seed Talk ’N Text. The Hotshots won Game 1, 120-86.
Barroca drained a three-pointer that gave Purefoods its biggest lead of the game, 75-55, 10:59 to play.
“It certainly got scary there in the end,” said Purefoods coach Tim Cone, whose squad bagged the Commissioner’s Cup championship last season against TNT with a 3-1 win in the five-game finals series. “Rain or Shine (coach Yeng Guiao) says they had the toughest battle (against Ginebra in the quarterfinals). I say we had the toughest battle in Alaska. They kept coming back at us.”
Meralco completed the semis cast with a 91-85 overtime win over sister team NLEX in the second game.
The Bolts, who also fell into 20-point hole, likewise swept their semis series with the Road Warriors. They will face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters tomorrow.
“I can’t tell you how glad we’re finishing this series with Alaska. It’s one hell of a series with TNT, they (Texters) are playing well and we’re playing well. It’s good to get that one through, I am happy,” said Cone.
Joe Devance finished with 16 points for Purefoods, while Barroca added 14 points off the bench. Yap added 11 points.
Alaska, a finalist in the previous Philippine Cup, got 22 points from Jazul, while James added 21 markers and 11 boards. Abueva contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds, and JVee Casio had 11 points.
PUREFOODS 96 – Bowles 32, Devance 16, Barroca 14, Yap 11, Mallari 7, Pingris 6, Maliksi 6, Simon 3, Melton 1, Reavis 0, Pennisi 0.
ALASKA 89 – Jazul 22, James 21, Abueva 14, Casio 10, Thoss 8, Baguio 7, Banchero 3, Manuel 2, Hontiveros 2, Exciminiano 0, Menk 0, Dela Cruz 0, Baclao 0.
Quarters: 30-21, 46-43, 70-55, 96-89.
MERALCO 91 –David 31, Davis 25, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 6, Cortez 4, Ferriols 4, Ildefonso 2, Caram 2, Reyes 0, Wilson 0, Anthony 0, Macapagal 0.
NLEX 85 – Thornton 32, Raymundo 12, Villanueva J. 12, Taulava 10, Cardona 6, Villanueva E. 4, Canaleta 3, Borboran 3, Apinan 3, Lingganay 0, Ramos 0.
Quarters: 20-17, 41-32, 66-53, 82-82, 91-85.