ALASKA completed a sweep of Barangay Ginebra with a 104-80 win in Game Three of the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals on Sunday night, completing its return to glory just months after hitting rock-bottom following the departure of multi-titled coach Tim Cone.
The Aces unleashed their full offensive might in a pivotal 24-2 blitzkrieg in the final quarter that took the fight out of a desperate Ginebra team and completed a 3-0 sweep of the championship series before the biggest crowd ever to watch a league game.
The record 24,430 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and millions more watching from their homes, witnessed Alaska return to the league pinnacle just over a year after posting the worst record in franchise history in its first season without Cone.
"When we were down and out, you didn't give up on us," said Luigi Trillo, addressing the Alaska fans in the stands after leading the team to its 14th championship - and first in three years.
"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Heroes were aplenty for Alaska in Game Three, which saw the Aces do the chasing for three quarters before exploding with a fury in the final quarter behind JV Casio, Calvin Abueva, and Sonny Thoss, who eventually got the nod as the Finals MVP.
The 5-7 Casio was the biggest man on the floor during that series-clinching run, hitting a pair of jumpers as well as the four-point play off a Jayjay Helterbrand foul that opened a 92-79 lead for the Aces, time down to four minutes and 28 seconds.
Thoss, who had made Ginebra pay for its single coverage on him the whole game, added a baseline jumper while Abueva broke loose for a fastbreak layup as a game that was thrilling for three quarters suddenly turned into another ugly rout, 96-79.
When the smoke of battle cleared, Alaska had completed just the eighth sweep of a best-of-five Finals in league history and Ginebra remained without a title in five seasons.
ALASKA 104 - Dozier 27, Abueva 22, Casio 18, Thoss 13, Baguio 7, Jazul 6, Hontiveros 5, Reyes 3, Espinas 2, Belasco 1, Ramos 0, Eman 0, Bugia 0, Laure 0, Dela Cruz 0.
GINEBRA 80 - Tenorio 18, Ellis 14, Macklin 12, Caguioa 12, Helterbrand 11, Baracael 5, Raymundo 4, Urbiztondo 2, Mamaril 2, Taha 0, Labagala 0, Espiritu 0, Hatfield 0.
Quarterscores: 23-20, 44-48, 71-72, 104-80