Alaska humbles Ginebra to force sudden death

Jane Bracher
Alaska survives another do-or-die game taking down top-seed Ginebra for another chance at entering the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals

ACES OVER KINGS. Alaska downs top-seed Ginebra for one more chance at entering the PBA PH Cup semis. Photo by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines – After failing to even notch back to back wins the entire conference, the Alaska Aces are now on a 3-game win streak that couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time.

The Aces survived two do-or-die games and a third one on Wednesday, January 22 and took down a giant in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 104-97, in the PLDT myDSL Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Alaska was loaded with ammunition all game long with 7 Aces finishing in double digits. But the game-changer was 2013 Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva, who played arguably his best game of the conference despite nursing a sprain.

Abueva came out with sparks flying from every part of him as he packed the hustle of all the players on the floor and beat them to rebounds and loose ball chases.

He took Ginebra’s big men head on in the paint and grabbed 11 rebounds with 8 on the offensive end. He finished with 16 points and also had 4 assists and 3 steals.

“It’s just nice to see him play well also,” Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo said. “I didn’t think he could play ’cause he’s sprained. But he’s motivated. Right now I don’t want him satisfied. It’s one game, we’re gonna need Calvin to do the same thing on Saturday.”

The Aces gradually pulled away in the third quarter, turning a two-point 67-65 advantage to an 80-71 edge entering the fourth.

Ginebra cut the biggest lead of 16, 92-76, with 6:58 minutes remaining after going on a 8-0 run spearheaded by Jayjay Helterbrand. But good ball movement led to a wide open triple from JVee Casio at the top of the key to squash their momentum.

“We have a good feel,” Trillo said of his team’s confidence. “The back to back wins gave us a little bit of confidence. I think it’s beyond coaching at this point. Those guys are just playing hard. We wanna hopefully close it on Saturday.”

Ginebra and Alaska showed playoff basketball at its finest. The first half alone was a story of hot shooting, speed, and extreme physicality from both teams.

Alaska, who was clicking on all cylinders from the get go, played Ginebra’s pace and beat the Gin Kings in their own game.

Cyrus Baguio took full advantage of the mismatch against Helterbrand and scored several jumpers on splendid moves in the post to lead the Aces with 12 points in the first two quarters.

Ginebra, on the other hand, relied on their deep bench and the weaponry available to them to keep up with the streaking Alaska.

Josh Urbiztondo went sniping from three-point land and hit his target with 3 triples, all in the second period. Helterbrand and LA Tenorio each hit a basket from deep as well to make things close at the break, 55-51.

On Saturday, January 25 the two teams will meet at the Cuneta Astrodome – on Japeth Aguilar’s birthday nonetheless – and will slug it out for a trip to the semis. For Alaska, it’s a chance to pull a huge upset as the eighth seed.

“We have a golden opportunity on Saturday to do something special,” Trillo said.

The scores:

Alaska (104): Hontioveros 18, Baguio 18, Casio 16, Abueva 16, Thoss 13, Espinas 12, Jazul 10, Eman 1, Belasco 0, Dela Cruz 0, Eximiniano 0.

Ginebra (97): Aguilar 22, Tenorio 16, Caguioa 15, Urbiztondo 13, Slaughter 12, Helterbrand 9, Ellis 4, Reyes 4, Baracael 2, Ababou 0, Monfort 0.

Quarters: 23-20; 55-51; 80-71; 104-97.


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