HENRY Walker scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half, including Alaska's last four points that clinched a 97-93 win over an error-prone Rain or Shine side on Friday night at the start of their PBA Governors Cup semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Walker found the opening in the endgame against a Rain or Shine team that uncharacteristically collapsed into a maze of errors and ill-advised attempts, hitting a turnaround jumper that gave Alaska the lead after a long, uphill fight, 95-93, with 49 seconds to go.
To complete his heroics, the former New York Knick intercepted a telegraphed pass by Paul Lee and hit the two free throws that sealed the vengeful win for Alaska, which suffered the worst loss in franchise history at the hands of Rain or Shine in the eliminations.
“I thought, obviously, Henry Walker was great down the stretch. I thought he used his size to his advantage,” Alaska coach Alex Compton said.
The win was Alaska's fifth in a row after a humiliating 72-123 drubbing from Rain or Shine two weeks ago, putting them 1-0 up in the best-of-five series and two wins away from a finals appearance in their first conference under Compton.
Rain or Shine saw its six-game win run come to an end, no thanks to six turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.
Alaska wisely pounded the ball inside for much of the game with veteran big man Sonny Thoss firing 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds and forward Vic Manuel adding 18 and eight boards.
Arizona Reid led the Elasto Painters with 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while Lee had 19, including five three-pointers,
Lee, however, had a game-high six turnovers.
Alaska 97 - Walker 31, Thoss 16, Manuel 14, Casio 7, Jazul 7, Abueva 7, Espinas 5, Hontiveros 5, Baguio 5, Dela Cruz 0.
Rain or Shine 93 - Reid 27, Lee 19, Chan 14, Tiu 8, Norwood 6, Arana 5, Belga 4, Almazan 3, Ibanes 3, Cruz 2, Nuyles 2, Rodriguez 0.
Quarterscores: 19-24, 46-45, 73-74, 97-93