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PBA: Alaska enters Finals

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Game Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs Rain or Shine (Game 5)
Series tied 2-all

Victims in one of the biggest heists in PBA history, the Alaska Aces are back at the scene of the crime looking for revenge and redemption.

The Aces steered clear of any smug-induced complications in blowing away the Globalport Batang Pier in Game 5 of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup semifinals last night, 118-89, advancing to the championship against the winner of the San Miguel Beer-Rain or Shine series.

In closing out the best-of-7 semis at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, four games to one, sweeping the series after dropping the opener, the Aces are making their 29th final appearance overall and 10th in the no-import tournament, then called the All-Filipino Conference.

Only three teams from among 45 that previously led 3-1 in a seven-game series failed to put away their opponents, and Alaska, from the onset, displayed it has no intention of joining the minority.

“I thought we did a lot of good things in the first half,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, who took the brunt of an agonizing loss in last season’s Philippine Cup Finals when SMB forward Arwind Santos stole the championship from under the Aces by hitting a title-clinching three-point shot in the waning seconds of Game 7.

Alaska took an 87-73 lead on the fourth quarter and never looked back, jacking it up to 29 near the end. The Aces now take a break even as they look ahead at who emerges from the ruins of an acrimonious series between the Beermen and Elasto Painters.

“The All-Filipino is the most special championship for a team to win, and last year’s is such a painful loss,” said Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu. “I would love nothing more than to present them (championship) rings; we’re gonna play whoever wins.”

A 14-2 run in the last four minutes of the first quarter opened a 10-point lead for the Aces who weathered a second period rush by Globalport to take a 51-60 advantage at the half after Stanley Pringle beat the buzzer on a coast-to-coast inbound pass by Joseph Yeo.

Alaska shot 12 of 24 (50 percent) in the first 12 minutes while Globalport, which misfired on its first three attempts, two of them from beyond the arc, missed 11 of 15 (26 percent), including all five 3-point heaves.

The Batang Pier were mangled inside the paint, 22 points to 2, and gave up an 8-0 deficit in second chance points, exposing their lack of aggressiveness and effort taking it inside and going after missed shots.

Three Globalport starters – Terrence Romeo (17 ), Yeo (12) and Pringle (10) – were in double figures, but their production was blunted by Alaska’s bench which saw Chris Banchero and RJ Jasul each scoring nine points and Vic Manuel five.

From 15-all, Alaska closed the opening period, 27-10. Jasul then gave the Aces their biggest lead in the first half, 57-43, on a triple before hitting another for 60-49 spread with a second remaining. Globalport had the last say though as Yeo threw a touchdown pass from the baseline which sailed past two defenders and fell in the hands of Pringle whose layup off the glass beat the halftime buzzer by three-tenths of a second.

Meanwhile, defending champion San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine clash to break their 2-2 impasse at 7 tonight, with the RoS Elasto Painters bringing back slasher-guard Jericho Cruz who got the green light from the doctors after injuring his left knee in Game 3 and sitting out Game 4 Monday.

ALASKA 118 – Exciminiano 18, Banchero 18, Abueva 14, Thoss 14, Baguio 10, Manuel 10, Jazul 9, Menk 9, Hontiveros 6, Casio 5, Dela Cruz 2, Eman 2, Baclao 0, Dela Rosa 0.

GLOBALPORT 89 – Washington 26, Romeo 20, Pringle 15, Sumang 9, Isip 6, Yeo 6, Jensen 3, Kramer 2, Maierhofer 2, Pena 0, Semerad 0.

Quarters: 27-17, 60-51, 87-73, 118-89