Alaska pulled off a big turn around in the second half en route to a 97-91 Game One victory against the Purefoods Star in the best-of-five semifinals of the 40th Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
That Aces are now leading the series 1-0.
Alaska import Romeo Travis posted 11 of his 28 points in the third quarter plus 10 rebounds to lead the Aces. JV Casio added 18 points and guard Chris Banchero 10 points all in the second half.
“I just told them they’re not a quitter. I got a tough group of guys. I believe they’re not gonna give up. I just want our identity to come out in the second half,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
“I’m sure Star will come back. We got back in the third quarter when we got to within seven points I believe we could win.”
Cyrus Baguio and Calvin Abueva contributed eight points each for Alaska.
Import Marcus Blakely scored 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the Hotshots.
Purefoods controlled the first two quarters through skilful offense and defense leading to a 51-36 advantage at halftime.
But Alaska countered with a 16-5 run late in the third frame capped by the basket of Travis, Manuel and Banchero to tie the game at 70-all before the final quarter starts.
The Aces completely seized the advantage at the start of last period after Banchero’s two straight baskets earning the team a 74-70 lead. Dondon Hontiveros further stretched Alaska’s lead to 77-70 after hitting a three-point shot with less than nine minutes left.
The Hotshots came within a point, 76-77 but the Aces pressed their attack anew in the last three minutes extending the gap to at least six points.
The Hotshots failed to bounce back from that point on.
On Thursday, Rain or Shine and San Miguel Beer will gun for a first win in Game One of the other best-of-five semifinals at the Araneta Coliseum.
Game time starts at 7:00 p.m.
“We like our chances, the chemistry of the team has gotten better with [Wendell] McKines stepping up and he’s been very consistent with his energy, his tenacity is always there it carries us through difficult times. Either way, Wendell is going to be a key factor for us to be successful.”
Besides McKines, Rain or Shine is expected to bank on combo guard Paul Lee, Raymond Almazan, Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, Chris Tiu, Gabe Norwood and Ryan Arana, among others.
Armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, the Elasto Paintmasters beat Barako Bull in two overtime games to enter the semifinals.
San Miguel Beer is bracing for a highly physical series against Rain or Shine.
“I asked them to give their effort and focus against Rain or Shine because it is going to be tough every game,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria, who will lean on import Arizona Reid, June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Ronald Tubid, among others.
The San Miguel Beermen defeated the Meralco Bolts in their do-or-die game on Monday to advance into the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Ginebra head coach Frankie Lim was fined P 50,000 and was suspended for one game by the Office of the PBA Commissioner for hitting Alaska player Calvin Abueva on Friday when he fell near the bench of Ginebra.
Alaska won that game to enter the semifinals.