ALASKA held its ground in the face of a spirited fightback by an import-less Ginebra team to hack out a 92-81 victory and reach the PBA Governors Cup semifinals in its first tournament under Alex Compton.
A quick-release three-pointer by JV Casio that barely beat the shotclock, which was followed by another booming trey by Dondon Hontiveros, touched off an endgame Alaska run that knocked the wind out of a Ginebra team orphaned by injured import Zach Mason in the second half.
Alaska's win completed a sweep by twice-to-beat teams of the quarterfinals and led to a Thursday playdate that would now see the third-seeded Aces taking on Rain or Shine in one semifinal pairing and top seed Talk 'N Text taking on grand slam-seeking San Mig in the other.
The win also ended a tumultuous season for the Gin Kings, who failed to advance past the quarterfinals in their first conference under Jeffrey Cariaso.
“I feel bad for Ginebra, because their import went down when he (Mason) got injured,” said Compton, who replaced Luigi Trillo as Alaska coach two games into the campaign.
Compton lauded Ginebra's local players who battled back from 14 points down to pull within five points in the stretch run while playing without Mason, who suffered what doctors feared was an ACL tear on his right knee after an awkward fall while trying to drive past Nic Belasco.
But a Ginebra fightback that got it within 75-81 with 4:03 remaining lost all momentum when Casio hit a backbreaking three-pointer with the shotclock running down, followed by another Hontiveros trey that made it 91-81, time down to 2:27.
Six players scored in double-figures for Alaska led by the 15 points of Casio, who went 3-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc.
Gabby Espinas, Hontiveros, Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel all scored 12 points while Sonny Thoss chipped in 11 points to atone for import Henry Walker’s scoring woes in the game.
Walker, a former NBA veteran, was held down to a PBA career-low seven points on a frigid 2-of-16 shooting from the field. The 26-year-old Walker though grabbed 10 rebounds and dished off six assists.
Japeth Aguilar led the Gin Kings with 18 points and seven rebounds while rookie big man Greg Slaughter added 16 points and 16 boards in a disappointing end to the team’s season.
Alaska 92 - Casio 15, Espinas 12, Hontiveros 12, Abueva 12, Manuel 12, Thoss 11, Walker 7, Jazul 7, Dela Cruz 2, Baguio 2, Belasco 0.
Ginebra 81 - Aguilar 18, Slaughter 16, Baracael 10, Ababou 10, Helterbrand 7, Caguioa 7, Tenorio 6, Mamaril 3, Mason 2, Reyes 2, Ellis 0, Monfort 0.
Quarterscores: 14-21, 39-33, 64-54, 92-81