ALASKA left nothing to chance as it dumped NLEX, 100-85, to clinch a postseason berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Aces leaned on a solid start and a stronger finish as they avoided complications after finishing the eliminations with a 6-5 win-loss record.
LaDontae Henton spearheaded the attack anew with 27 points while returning Vic Manuel provided a spark as four locals scored in twin digits for the Aces, who clinched the No. 6 seeding opposite either perennial finals rival San Miguel Beer or Ginebra in the quarterfinals.
The Road Warriors finished the elimination round at 5-6, but are still assured of a quarterfinal berth as either the seventh or eighth seed.
“A lot of games NLEX has been down, they don’t give up, so we knew they’d make a run, but I appreciate the heart of the guys, continuing to defend 'til the end,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
After building an early double-digit lead, the Aces saw the Road Warriors make a comeback that pulled them to within five points, 75-70, early in the fourth quarter.
But the Aces regrouped and tightened their defensive screws as they embarked on a 23-10 run to establish their biggest lead at 17 to coast to the victory.
Manuel, in his first game back from injury, sparked the surge with five of his 13 points in the final frame as RJ Jazul, Calvin Abueva, and Sonny Thoss also came through for the Aces.
Bill Walker was solid against his former team as he tallied 29 points and 10 boards to lead the Road Warriors, who had the luxury to lose after already clinching a postseason berth last Wednesday.
ALASKA 100 – Henton 27, Jazul 14, Manuel 13, Thoss 10, Abueva 10, , Casio 7, Racal 6, Banchero 3, Exciminiano 3, Hontiveros 3, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 2, Magat 0, Dela Cruz 0, Galliguez 0
NLEX 85 – Walker 29, Taulava 14, Anthony 11, Khobuntin 10, Villanueva E. 9, Villanueva J. 4, Akl 3, Arboleda 3, Baracael 2, Alas 0, Camson 0, Monfort 0, Reyes 0, Soyud 0, Lanete 0
Quarterscores: 24-19, 52-37, 75-64, 100-85