CALVIN Abueva led three other players in double figures to power a charged-up Alaska Milk to a convincing 88-70 whipping of Meralco for a two-game sweep of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.
Two days after being grounded by fouls in the Aces' 90-84 win in the series opener, the explosive Abueva bounced back with a vengeance, humiliating the Bolts with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and three shot blocks in 33 minutes in a highly physical game marked by cheap shots from both camps.
The high-leaping Cyrus Baguio also came through with 18 points, including 10 in the second half where he shot several difficult fadeaway jumpers that kept the Bolts at bay every time they tried to mount a rally.
JV Casio added 17 and eight assists while Gabby Espinas also was a steady force in the paint after finishing with 13 points, eight boards and three blocked shots, providing the energy the Aces needed to dominate Game Two from start to finish and send the Bolts to an early Christmas vacation.
“I don’t wanna take anything away from us. Meralco was a tired team. I think they played three games in five days. They had an injured Sol (Mercado), he’s not 100 percent. They say, take advantage of opportunities. It’s a dream come true,” said a beaming Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
The Aces, who entered the series seeded fifth, dominated the boards 54-34 against the Bolts.
Trillo also gave credit to his coaching staff led by Alex Compton, Louie Alas and Topex Robinson, who he said provided valuable inputs as the Aces reached the semifinals after winning a grand total of 11 games all of last season.
The Aces will face powerhouse Talk ‘N Text in a best-of-five series in the semifinals that begin next Thursday. The Tropang Texters were the first team to advance to the semifinals after booting out eighth-seeded Air21 on Thursday night, 105-100.
Mac-Mac Cardona led the Bolts with 18 points, while Mercado, who played through a right ankle sprain, added 15 and 10 assists.
Alaska 88 - Abueva 18, Baguio 18, Casio 17, Espinas 13, Jazul 8, Baracael 6, Hontiveros 5, Thoss 3, Dela Cruz 0, Belasco 0
Meralco 70 -Cardona 18, Mercado 15, Hodge 11, Hugnatan 9, Ross 6, Salvacion 6, Reyes 4, Buenafe 1, Bulawan 0, Sharma 0
Quarterscores: 26-16, 44-34, 70-55, 88-70