LEARNING its lesson well, the Alaska Aces played without let-up in Game Three of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals against the Meralco Bolts until victory was theirs.
Calvin Abueva admitted the team became complacent the last time, which cost them Game Two, 92-87, and allowed the Bolts to level the best-of-five series at 1-1.
But on Friday night, the Aces played like a man possessed led by Abueva, as they pounced on the hapless Bolts on the way to scoring a convincing 92-72 win.
Up 2-1, Alaska can book a third straight stint to the Finals with another win in Game Four set on Monday, also at the Araneta Coliseum.
“Oo after 39 minutes nag-relax kami,” the undersized 6-foot-1 power forward said about Alaska’s loss the last time in which Meralco rallied from a 77-63 deficit early in the fourth. “Sabi namin, 'Uy panalo na kasi down sila by 14.' Yun pala mali (kami).”
“Kaya kahit up (kami) by double digit, inangat pa naman para wala ng habol sa endgame.”
Abueva finished with 23 points, including 14 in the second half when the Aces turned around the game which ended tied at the halftime break, 38-all.
The four-year pro fired eight of those points in the third quarter when the Aces broke away for good.
Abueva, who was 9 of 18 from the field, added 12 rebounds for good measure as he earned a seventh Best Player of the Game award this conference - the most in the league since teammate Vic Manuel got the same number in the Philippine Cup.
But the figures hardly mattered for him.
“Hindi naman basta-basta double-double average mo e, kung hindi naman nananalo ang team mo. Mas iinitindihin (ko) yung manalo kaysa sa points,” said the former San Sebastian stalwart, who was left a little woozy following a collision with Meralco's Cliff Hodge late in the game.
Even with a two-day break in between Game Four, Abueva reiterated there will be no let-up for the Aces.
“Hindi kami puwedeng mag relax (pa rin) sa Game Four. Two days rest yan, makaka-recover ang mga yun (Bolts) kaya pagpupursigihin pa namin,” said the Alaska star.