PBA Governors' Cup

NLEX cruises to Governors’ Cup semis as Alaska bids PBA goodbye

Delfin Dioquino
NLEX cruises to Governors’ Cup semis as Alaska bids PBA goodbye

END OF THE ROAD. Mark St. Fort and Alaska end their PBA Governors' Cup campaign.

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The Road Warriors pull the plug on the Aces' last dance as NLEX crushes Alaska by 16 points in their do-or-die battle

MANILA, Philippines – NLEX denied Alaska an extension to its farewell tour after cruising to a 96-80 rout in their do-or-die clash for a semifinal berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, March 19.

Import Cameron Clark dominated with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals as the Road Warriors pulled the plug on the Aces’ last dance.

Bidding the PBA goodbye after 35 seasons, Alaska had sought to capture its 15th title in its final conference and reinforced that bid after dragging the twice-to-beat NLEX to a rubber match with a 93-79 victory in Game 1.

However, that only delayed the Aces’ exit as the Road Warriors dominated the middle quarters on the way to the win that propelled them to their first semifinal appearance in the Governors’ Cup.

NLEX will face defending Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-five semifinals starting on Wednesday, March 23.

JR Quiñahan came off the bench and produced 12 points for the Road Warriors, Kris Rosales chalked up 12 points and 7 rebounds, while Justin Chua added 10 points and 4 rebounds.

“This is really just the advantage that you get when you have the twice-to-beat incentive going for you. You can make one mistake and get another chance,” said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao.

“We just cashed in on our incentive.”

Alaska got off to a 7-0 start, but things went downhill for the Aces after Jeron Teng hit Clark with an elbow to head with more than seven minutes left in the opening quarter.

Teng got slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul, while Clark needed to get stitched up in the locker room to close the wound that opened on his forehead.

Since that incident, the Road Warriors erected a 13-4 run anchored on 8 points from red-hot Quiñahan to seize a 13-11 advantage.

After a nip-and-tuck first quarter ended with Alaska trailing by just a whisker, 20-21, NLEX broke away by outscoring its foes 25-11 in the second period, with 10 points coming from Clark.

Despite his cut, Clark downright outplayed Aces import Mark St. Fort, who went scoreless in the first half.

St. Fort bounced back and scored all of his 14 points in the second half, but Alaska failed to regain its bearings and even trailed by as many 24 points in the fourth quarter, 81-57.

Matt Nieto added 10 points in the win, while Don Trollano and Kevin Alas chimed in 9 and 7 points, respectively.

In a must-win game where they needed to be close to perfect, the Aces shot a dismal 24% from three-point distance – a far cry from their 40% clip in Game 1 – and tallied as many turnovers (15) as assists (15).

Teng finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds in the loss as the PBA sounded the final buzzer on Alaska.

The Scores

NLEX 96 – Clark 24, Quiñahan 12, Rosales 12, Chua 10, Nieto 10, Trollano 9, Alas 7, Soyud 7, Varilla 3, Ighalo 2, Murrell 0, Paniamogan 0, Semerad 0.

Alaska 80 – Saint Fort 14, Teng 13, DiGregorio 11, Tolomia 11, Bulanadi 8, Taha 8, Tratter 6, Ilagan 5, Ahanmisi 4, Racal 0, Faundo 0.

Quarters: 21-20, 46-31, 71-52, 96-80.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.