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PBA: Alaska extends series

Paul Lee and Rob Dozier

Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
5 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine (Game 5)

Manila, Philippines – Friday the 13th claimed a victim last night, but not the one scheduled for the gallows.

The Alaska Aces survived the curse of the dreaded day in Western superstition, averting a sweep in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals by routing Rain or Shine, 111-99, in Game 4 and stepping away from cliff’s edge at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Though down to 1-3, the deficit remains daunting for the Aces going to Game 5 tomorrow also at the Big Dome where the E-Painters will have another shot at their second franchise title after squandering this one. Game 6 is on Wednesday, if RoS continues to flirt with disaster.

History remains steadfast, though, on the side of the E-Painters.

Of 16 teams that took a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 finals, only two failed to put the title away in Game 5, and the percentages will get even smaller for the Aces if the series goes to a winner-take-all seventh game.

But that might be looking too far ahead.

Up by 23 points entering the fourth quarter, Alaska saw the advantage whittled down to a single digit before time ran out on RoS cutting it further.

“We finally showed up,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “Hope we played like this before; we could have won one or two games.”

Compton said offense, more than their vaunted defense, was the key in staying alive.

“We just did right what we had to do because we had so many defensive breakdowns in Game 3,” he said. “We had some stops and closed out better, but it was our offense that carried us tonight.”

Alaska nonetheless held RoS to 43 percent in the first 24 minutes (15 of 38) and opened a 53-39 spread which cushioned against the E-Painters’ late comeback.

Dozier led the Aces with 23 points, 10 in the last quarter, and five other Aces had 11 points or more. Rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, on the other hand, paced RoS with 30 points, 15 coming in the fourth, but was the only bright light on a bleak evening for the E-Painters, who were dominated in every important department, including 36-27 in rebounds, uncharacteristically 15-3 in fast breaks, 10-3 in second chance points, and 24-16 in assists.

The Aces outscored the E-Painters, 29-18, in the second quarter on the way to a 54-39 advantage at the half.

Tumult reigned in the first 24 minutes, with 19 fouls called on RoS and 14 on Alaska, which went to the free throw line and hit 11 of 19. The E-Painters were limited to 4 of 4 from the stripe, going without one in the entire opening quarter.

Calvin Abueva had 10 points off the bench while Rob Dozier and Cyrus Baguio each had 8. Ahanmisi led RoS with 11, hitting all of the E-Painters’ four charities.

ALASKA 111 – Dozier 23, Banchero 17, Jazul 15, Abueva 14, Baguio 11, Thoss 11, Hontiveros 7, Racal 7, Dela Cruz 4, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 99 – Ahanmisi 30, Lee 11, Chan 10, Quinahan 10, Cruz 9, Norwood 9, Belga 6, Ibanes 4, Henderson-Niles 3, Ponferada 3, Almazan 2, Tiu 2, Teng 0.

Quarters: 25-21; 54-39; 90-67; 111-99