Alaska edges out Meralco in OT thriller to seize last playoff berth
MANILA, Philippines – Alaska displayed sheer grit after dragging Meralco to overtime and hacking out a 108-103 win to clinch the last playoff seat in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, July 19.
Chris Banchero took over late in regulation, while import Diamon Simpson and Vic Manuel hit timely buckets in the extra period as the Aces advanced to the next round and sent the Bolts packing for vacation.
Taking the No. 8 spot, Alaska will have an even more difficult task ahead as it tangles with No. 1 TNT, which boasts a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
Manuel chalked up 23 points and 4 rebounds off the bench, while Diamon Simpson picked up his first win of the conference behind his output of 20 points, 23 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
Although not the player with the highest scoring tally, Banchero – who had 15 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds – was just as crucial by scoring 5 big points in the final 15 seconds of regulation.
Banchero drained a triple that shaved the Aces' deficit to a whisker, 94-95, and forged overtime by knocking down a turnaround jumper with a second left after Chris Newsome failed to put the Bolts up by 3 as he split his freebies.
Meralco import Delroy James almost sent the venue to hysterics as he heaved a Hail Mary three-pointer from the other side of the court, but his shot only hit the front of the rim.
Manuel then made his presence felt in the extra period, drilling in back-to-back floaters before Jeron Teng gave Alaska a 106-103 lead off a putback.
With 50 seconds remaining, Meralco had ample time to narrow the gap but James missed both of his triple tries.
Javee Casio had 14 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals, Enciso added 13 points and 4 steals, while Teng chipped in 12 points as the Aces put an end to their miserable five-game losing streak.
James ended his PBA campaign with 34 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds, Newsome chimed in 20 points, while Raymond Almazan had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the loss.
Alaska 108 - Manuel 23, Simpson 20, Banchero 15, Casio 14, Enciso 13, Teng 12, Thoss 5, Racal 2, Pascual 2, Baclao 2.
Meralco 103 - James 34, Newsome 20, Almazan 14, Amer 8, Quinto 7, Pinto 6, Hodge 4, Faundo 4, De Ocampo 3, Jackson 3, Salva 0.
Quarters: 26-28, 55-43, 68-66, 96-96 (reg.), 108-103 (OT).