ALASKA simply showed more desire than Rain or Shine did as it hacked out a 94-89 decision on Wednesday night to clinch the second seed in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Aces erased a late deficit, proving steadier down the stretch where they bucked the absence of a foul-plagued Calvin Abueva to earn the second twice-to-beat spot in the first round of the playoffs.
Jvee Casio paced the Aces, who finished with a 7-4 win-loss record to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Ginebra while leaving the E-Painters in a playoff with Blackwater for the last playoff spot.
“It’s great we have the twice to beat, but it’s not an advantage to have Ginebra as an opponent,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
The Aces, supplanted Star from second spot despite both teams sporting similar records, thanks to the winner-over-the other rule, as the Hotshots dropped to third seed in a best-of-three series against Phoenix.
TNT Katropa and GlobalPort ended up in the middle of the pack as the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively, facing off in the other best-of-three affair.
Top seed San Miguel Beer is waiting forh the winner of the Elasto Painters-Elite playoff on Friday.
Casio finished with a game-high 25 points, including four straight that knotted the count and gave the Aces the lead for good at 91-89 with over two minutes left, before coming through on the other end with steal that led to a breakaway layup by Ping Exciminiano that practically sealed the deal.
The Aces prevailed despite Abueva hobbled by foul trouble throughout the game as The Beast played less than 13 minutes, contributing four points, four boards, and one steal.
James Yap led the E-Painters with 16 points, including a three-pointer that put his team ahead, 86-79, with a little over seven minutes remaining, only to be questionably benched by coach Caloy Garcia for a crucial part where the Aces were in the middle of their comeback.
ALASKA 94 – Casio 25, Thoss 13, Manuel 13, Jazul 12, Mendoza 8, Exciminiano 6, Racal 5, Hontiveros 5, Abueva 4, Galliguez 2, Cruz 1, Pascual 0
ROS 89 – Norwood 16, Yap 16, Cruz 12, Chan 10, Tiu 9, Washington 8, Belga 6, Ponferada 6, Ahanmisi 4, Trollano 2, Matias 0
Quarterscores: 17-19, 43-45, 66-71, 94-89