CALVIN Abueva and Robert Dozier came alive in the final quarter as Alaska made a late surge that carried it past San Mig Coffee, 83-78, on Saturday night and into the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.
Abueva scored 12 of his 14 points in the final quarter while five of Dozier's career-low six points came on two key baskets that enabled the Aces to wrap up the best-of-five series, 3-1, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
That allowed the Uytengsu franchise to return to the finals for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, the last time it won a championship under now San Mig coach Tim Cone.
"Obviously, it’s nice to beat a guy you look up to," said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, who booked his first finals appearance at the expense of his longtime mentor.
Dozier missed his first eight shots but buried a shot clock-beating three-pointer and finished an Alaska fastbreak with a basket as the Aces reached the finals for the 26th time in franchise history.
Dozier, a strong candidate for the Best Import award this conference, was just 2-of-11 from the floor, but he grabbed 14 rebounds, and had three assists and three shot blocks in a near no-relief job.
Abueva ran into early foul trouble and spent much of the first half on the bench. But come the fourth period, the man called the “Beast” exploded for 12 points, including two triples in a searing Aces rally.
“It’s really a great win for us. I thought this series is about defense. I thought we were a little bit tight but the guys focused on defense and got stops come the second half,” Trillo said.
Denzel Bowles, who led the Mixers to the Commissioner's Cup title last season, had 23 points and 22 rebounds in the absence of injured star James Yap.
Joe Devance added 18 and six boards, but he and Bowles committed a combined 10 turnovers. San Mig had a total of 19 turnovers in the game.
ALASKA 83 - Baguio 16, Casio 15, Abueva 14, Thoss 9, Dela Cruz 9, Espinas 7, Dozier 6, Hontiveros 5, Jazul 2, Belasco 0.
SAN MIG COFFEE 78 - Bowles 23, Devance 18, Barroca 14, Simon 10, Pingris 5, Mallari 3, Reavis 3, Najorda 2, Gonzales 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 25-24, 34-48, 60-64, 83-78