Alaska pulls off another comeback over Rain or Shine for 3-2 lead
"I think that's just the fortitude of the guys that we have on the team," said Alaska head coach Alex Compton as his team moved one win away from a finals date with the San Miguel Beermen.
Cyrus Baguio and Calvin Abueva led all Aces with 16 points each. Abueva added 11 rebounds to his name as Alaska out-rebounded Rain or Shine, 65-52.
Big man Sonny Thoss contributed 13 markers and 8 boards while forward Vic Manuel also had 13 points on top of 7 rebounds.
The Painters raced to a 37-18 lead early in the second period before the Aces uncorked a 17-0 run to get back into the game and head into halftime trailing by just 47-41.
"First half they (Rain or Shine) played great. They were aggressive, they were getting lay-ups," Compton said. "From 19 points to 6 points, that's a significant jump. That makes you feel going into the half that a game that could have gotten out of hand was winnable."
Alaska's offense kicked in by the third period as Baguio knocked down a fadeway jumper to tie things up at 55-all midway in that quarter.
A Ping Exciminiano steal and a subsequent basket then put Alaska ahead for the first time in the game, 57-55. Those were the only two points for the former FEU guard, whom Compton commended for his defensive intensity. Alaska was +17 with Exciminiano on the floor.
"I want to specifically credit Ping Exciminiano. His defensive effort changed the game," Compton said.
Rain or Shine tried to pull the rug from underneath Alaska in the fourth, coming to within 88-85 with under 4 minutes left, but they died by too many 3-pointers - Jonathan Uyloan missed 4 treys and Paul Lee missed two of his own.
Lee finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds as the Painters surprisingly lagged behind in fastbreak points 23-8. Raymond Almazan topscored with 16 points along with 9 boards while JR Quiñahan and Beau Belga had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Both teams will get more than week's break with Game 6 to be played on Sunday, January 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With the series going up and down, Compton believes neither team has momentum, and even if one game is all they need, it won't be so easy against a team like Rain or Shine.
"Without question it won't be easy and there's absolutely no guarantee that we're there," Compton said. "We have no time for complacency. What's scary is you have a Hall of Fame coach and you give him a week to teach and put stuff in.
"At this point I don't think anybody's carried momentum into the next game," he added.
ALASKA (93): Baguio 16, Abueva 16, Thoss 13, Manuel 13, Hontiveros 11, Menk 7, Banchero 5, Casio 5, Exciminiano 2, Dela Cruz 2, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Espinas 0.
RAIN OR SHINE (88): Almazan 16, Lee 14, Quinahan 13, Belga 10, Chan 9, Uyloan 8, Norwood 5, Tang 4, Arana 4, Ibanes 2, Cruz 2, Teng 0, Tiu 0.
Quarter scores: 18-29, 41-47, 76-67, 93-88.
Here are more photos of the game taken by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images
Rain or Shine vs Alaska PBA 2015 semifinals
Game 1: Aces draw first blood in semis series vs Elasto Painters
Game 2: Rain or Shine hangs on late to tie semis series
Game 3: Abueva's career-high Aces 2-1 edge vs Elasto Painters
Game 4: Rain or Shine wins Christmas duel vs Alaska