DENZEL Bowles fired 32 points as Purefoods Star Hotshots overpowered Alaska Aces down-the-stretch to escape with a 96-89 win and swept the best-of-three quarterfinal series, 2-0, on Sunday in the 40th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots showed their old deadly form and took an early 6-0 lead, which Joe Devance and Alex Mallari stretched to nine points, 30-21, in the first canto.
Devance had three triples while Mallari added one to start the second period with a lot of confidence. Coach Tim Cone’s Hotshots will then meet Talk ‘N Text in the best-of-five semifinals starting on Tuesday. The Tropang Texters, needed just one game to end Barako Bull’s hope, 127-97, on Saturday to earn a semis slot. The other quarterfinal match will pit top seed Rain or Shine against the winner between Nlex Road Warriors and Meralco Bolts.
“It certainly got scary there in the end. Rain or Shine says they had the toughest battle, I say we had the toughest battle in Alaska. They kept coming back at us,” said Cone.
Cone was referring to their 20 points lead, 75-55, with still 11 minutes remaining but failed to sustain momentum after Alaska fought back and closed the gap, 84-88, only 2:11 to go.
Bowles also hauled down 11 rebounds and four blockshots to lead the Hotshots, while Devance finished with 16, Mark Barroca settled with 14 and 11 from James Yap. RJ Jazul topscored for Alaska with 22 points, import Damion James added 21 and 14 from Calvin Abueva.