ALASKA blew a double-digit lead but steadied just in time to outlast a fighting Barangay Ginebra side, 104-98 and book a playoff spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Up by as much as 15 points, the Aces played horribly in the first eight minutes of the last period, allowing the Gin Kings to regain the lead, 90-89 behind the big baskets of LA Tenorio and Mac Baracael.
But Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros, Calvin Abueva and import Damion James came up with key baskets inside the last four minutes to save Alaska’s campaign this conference.
The six-point winning margin also installed Alaska as the sixth seed, setting it up for a quarterfinal showdown against defending champion Purefoods Star, which enters the quarterfinals as the no. 3 seed,
The Aces-Hotshots quarterfinal series begins on Friday.
On the other hand, the loss dropped Ginebra to eighth seed and a daunting playoff against twice-to-beat top seed Rain or Shine beginning on Saturday.
On the other hand, Barako Bull, which wound up tied with Ginebra and Alaska at 5-6 (win-loss), wound up as the seventh seed and will have to beat second-ranked Talk ‘N Text twice.
Alaska's win also took out GlobalPort from the playoff picture.
“The guys did great and Ginebra played great defense. We were about to pull away but Ginebra just did not quit,” Alaska coach Alex Compton said after the game.
James led the Aces with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Abueva managed to keep himself under control while adding 16 points and six boards.
Michael Dunigan led the Gin Kings with 32 points and 13 rebounds, while Baracael added 18. Japeth Aguilar added 17 before leaving the game with still more than three minuets left after spraining his right ankle.