Import Romeo Travis scored the crucial three-point shot allowing Alaska to win 82-77 over the Star Hotshots in Game Three of best-of-five semifinals and book a finals berth in the 40th Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
With the three-game sweep, Alaska will be making its 28th finals appearance since joining the league in 1986.
Travis, who posted 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter in addition to 10 rebounds and seven assists, nailed a go-ahead trey with only two minutes left allowing the Aces to seize the lead 79-77.
Vic Manuel, who had 14 points, scored a jumper extending the Aces’ lead to 81-77 before JV Casio split his free throw with less than a minute left resulting in his team earning a five-point advantage.
Star failed to penetrate Alaska’s rock-solid defense in the dying seconds failing to score not even a single basket until the final buzzer sounded.
“We talked coming into this game there’s gonna be adversity,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “Confidence and humility aren’t antonyms. Coach Tim is awesome, he’s the best ever. I love to coach my guys.”
“Travis showed what he is in the crucial fourth quarter hitting important threes and getting crucial rebounds. It’s all about his heart,” he added.
Cyrus Baguio and Rome Dela Rosa finished with 11 points each, while Casio added nine points for the Aces.
The Star Hotshot opened Game Three on a high note outscoring the Aces 23-16 in the entire first frame behind the stellar performance of James Yap, Jean Marc Pingris and Marcus Blakely who merged for 24 points in the first quarter.
Alaska fought back and narrowed the gap to 30-32, after Cyrus Baguio scored a three-pointer early in the second period. But Star responded with a blistering 12-4 run capped by Joe Devance’s three-pointer to stretch the squad’s lead to 44-34 in the middle of second quarter.
The Star Hotshots were able to sustain their momentum until the end of halftime bringing the score to 46-37. Yap finished the first two quarters with 15 points, while Pingris and Blakely combined for 16 points.
The Aces trimmed the Hotshots’ lead at 60-65 by the end of third period by outscoring them in that quarter 23-19.
By the middle of payoff period, Alaska ignited an 11-4 run highlighted by Travis’ three-pointer and Manuel’s basket to grab the lead 71-69 with less than four minutes left in the game.
The Aces banked on the crucial baskets of Travis and Manuel late in the fourth quarter to secure the win and the first finals slot.
James Yap scored 20 points and import Marcus Blakely had 15 points to lead the Hotshots.
On Monday, Rain or Shine will attempt to sustain its momentum in Game Three against San Miguel Beer in the other best-of-five semifinals at the same venue.
Game time begins at 7:00 pm.