Alaska and Rain or Shine bested their respective foes strengthening their chances of grabbing an outright semifinals berths in the elimination round of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The Alaska Aces stopped the onslaught of June Mar Fajardo and the San Miguel Beermen 103-97 to improve their win-loss record to 8-2. Center Sonny Thoss scored 18 points to lead the Aces.
Calvin Abueva finished with 17 points plus 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Chris Banchero posted 17 points. Vic Manuel and Cyrus Baguio contributed 12 points and 10 points, respectively, also for the Aces.
The Aces will bag an outright semifinals berth if they won their last game in the elimination round against Barako Bull.
San Miguel Beer’s forward Ryan Arana was tossed out of the game for committing a flagrant foul a few seconds remaining before the end of the first period. Arana hit Abueva with an elbow during a rebound play.
After trailing behind, 16-19, in the first quarter, the Aces recovered in the second period through Banchero’s 10 points. Alaska outscored the Beermen in the second quarter 24-18 finally seizing the lead 40-37 going into halftime.
Despite San Miguel Beer’s fourth quarter rally, Alaska remained tenacious stopping San Miguel Beer’s win streak.
The Beermen’s win-loss record dropped to 9-2 but stayed at the No. 1 spot.
In the first game, Raymund Almazan posted 21 points and 18 rebounds to power Rain or Shine’s 97-87 win over Meralco.
The Elasto Painters’ win-loss record improved to 8-2 while the Bolts’ dropped to a dismal 1-10.
“I was struggling offensively in my previous games and I think this is the right time to comeback,” said Almazan, who shot 6-of-7 in the field and 6-of-8 in the foul in addition to 17 rebounds and a block. “I’m also thankful to coach Yeng and to my teammates.”
Guard Jericho Cruz notched 13 points; Beau Belga had nine points and Gabe Norwood eight points also for the Elasto Painters.
“We had to bleed for this one, this is really a big game for us because we have one more game to go on Saturday,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao during the post-game interview. “It is going to be like a playoff game for us.”