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PBA: Alaska, Globalport gun for semifinals

Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar, hero in the elimination game against NLEX last Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Photo by Ernie U. SarmientoGames Today (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Star vs Globalport
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Alaska

Do it or die – as the rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section preaches. No other choice, really.

Two of the possible eight killer matches in the Governors’ Cup, known in PBA parlance as the quarterfinal playoffs, get going today, with No. 1 seed Alaska and No. 4 Globalport, both armed with twice-to-beat advantages, gunning for semifinal-clinching victories at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Berths in the best-of-5 pre-finals series await Globalport, if it gets past defending champion and 5th-ranked Star Hotshots at 4:15 p.m., and Alaska, should it hurdle exuberant but undoubtedly exhausted Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the No. 8 seed, at 7 p.m.

A loss by either the Aces or the Batang Pier (or both) would set the stage for dagger do-or-dies involving all four ballclubs.

That should be the third consecutive sudden death match for Barangay Ginebra after dodging the bullet against NLEX late Wednesday, with Japeth Aguilar draining a deep corner 3-point shot with 1.7 seconds remaining, handing the Kings a 110-107 thriller and securing the eight and last spot in the quarters.

But from the frying pan, Barangay Ginebra now jumps into the fire against well-rested Alaska, needing a second do-or-die win if only to forge an unenviable third straight no-tomorrow appearance.

“If we want to do it, we’ve got to want it. It all came down to making stops,” said Ginebra coach Frankie Lim, who vowed to come up with something different in the wake of the Aces’ 108-99 win over the Kings early in the elims.

Aguilar basked in the glow of his game-winner but had the good sense to quickly turn down the light.

“No, we cannot celebrate for long,” Aguilar told Interaksyon.com. “I just hope the kind of game we showed tonight will be carried over in our next game.”

Two more showdowns are in store on Sunday between No. 2 San Miguel Beer against No. 7 Meralco, and No. 3 Rain or Shine against No 6 Barako Bull. The Beermen and Elasto Painters book safe passage to the semis with outright wins, while the Bolts and Energy get a new lease on life and a rubber match if they prevail.

Globalport versus Star promises sparks flying triggered mainly by the Batang Pier’s electrifying backcourt with Terrence Romeo, Stanley Pringle, Ronjay Buenafe and Syrian import Omar Krayem.

Their elimination round date ended with Globalport escaping with a 91-89 victory on May 12 at the Mall of Asia Arena after Pringle shook off Marc Pingris on a stop-on-a-dime jumper with 12 seconds remaining.

It was the first win by the Batang Pier over the Purefoods franchise after nine straight losses, the triumph fashioned behind the 12 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists performance of stand-in import Steve Thomas who held the fort before the arrival of Jarid Famous.

Wrapping up the elimination round with a 7-4 card in a tie with Rain or Shine, Globalport bumped off Star (6-5) in the race for the fourth and last twice-to-beat edge in the playoffs after the Batang Pier secured a 117-104 overtime win over guarded Alaska in a game where the Aces strategically sat down import Romeo Travis and key local players in the second half.

Star coach Tim Cone, who handled Alaska in 13 of its 14 titles, wound up shielding his former team from suggestions the top seed Aces may have had Cone in mind when they appeared to have half their feet off the gas pedal against the Batang Pier.