By Jonas Terrado
Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Alaska vs Magnolia
(Series tied 2-2)
Momentum has swung in favor of the Alaska Aces last night after they fashioned out a 90-76 victory over the frustrated Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok that tied the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at 2-2.
But discussion at the conclusion of the fourth game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum centered on the way the physicality has reached a high point, particularly in the fourth quarter when Hotshots guard Mark Barroca was caught on television landing a low blow on Aces counterpart Chris Banchero with less than two minutes remaining.
The incident, which referees failed to call, prompted Aces coach Alex Compton to raise a howl upon entering the press room for the customary post-game interview.
“That’s dirty basketball,” said Compton, who rarely blows his top in front of the media.
It was one of many comments that may cause Compton a heavy fine from PBA commissioner Willie Marcial after he and Magnolia coach Chito Victolero were reportedly given a stern warning for publicly raising their grievances.
Compton, however, seems to care less, given that he has seen his players bounce back from losing the first two games behind a rugged defense that left Magnolia bleed for its shots.
Alaska tries to make it three in a row tomorrow evening in the pivotal fifth game at the same venue, with tension expected to flare up to even higher levels.
Winning the Best Import prior to tipoff served as a perfect timing for Mike Harris to deliver his best game of the series, posting 34 points and 20 rebounds as the Aces took control after trailing 22-16 at the end of the first period.
Banchero finished with 17 points despite having to deal with the late-game incident with Barroca, who he has engaged in multiple exchanges since the start of the series.
Jake Pascual, rookie Jeron Teng and Kevin Racal combined for 24 points while also contributing on the defensive end that left Magnolia with only Romeo Travis, who suffered a cut in the face in the second half, carrying the load.
Travis, who settled for second to Harris in the Best Import derby, had 29 points and 13 rebounds.
Paul Lee, named Best Player of the Conference, scored 14 points but shot just 4-of-13 from the floor as his struggles continued.
Tags: Alaska Aces, Alex Compton, Chito Victolero, Chris Banchero, Jake Pascual, Jeron Teng, Magnolia Hotshots, Mark Barroca, Mike Harris, PBA, PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, Romeo Travis