ALASKA turned to its old reliables in the absence of it Gilas Pilipinas standouts as it held off Rain or Shine, 99-95, on Friday night to seal a spot in a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
Vic Manuel scored the go-ahead hook shot before JVee Casio converted the insurance charities to crown the first triple-double of his career as the Aces hang tough without Gilas mainstays Calvin Abueva and Carl Bryan Cruz, as well as injured Chris Banchero.
Casio finished with 22 points, 10 boards, and 10 assists along with two steals as the Aces finished the eliminations with their seven wins in 11 games, in the procsss stalling the Elasto Painters’ entry to the playoffs after handing their opponents their fourth loss in nine games.
“Awesome game, playoff basketball,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “Maverick Ahanmisi gave me about 800 new gray hairs. James (Yap) has been playing great, but I just really appreciate the effort of the guys in weathering the storm.”
Indeed, Ahanmisi gave Compton and the Aces some problems as he fired a game-high 23 points, on top of five boards, five assists, and five steals, scoring 15 of his offensive output in the final frame, the last three on a triple that pulled the E-Painters to within a point, 94-93, with 1:49 left.
The third-year playmaker then dished out an assist to Yap for the jumper – his 17th point of the game – that gave ROS its last taste of the lead at 95-94, 1:30 to go in a game that saw 33 lead changes and nine deadlocks.
The Aces gained the upperhand for good after Manuel retaliated with that jumphook before Casio grabbed a defensive rebound off a Yap missed triple, completing his triple-double, drawing a foul, then hitting the two free throws that gave them a three-point lead.
The Aces’ balanced effort was evident as seven players scored in twin digits, including Marion Magat delivered with 14 points, six boards, two assists, and one block.
ALASKA 99 – Casio 22, Teng 14, Magat 14, Racal 13, Manuel 12, Thoss 10, Enciso 10, Baclao 2, Exciminiano 2, J. Pascual 0, R.Pascual 0, Galliguez 0, Potts 0
ROS 95 – Ahanmisi 23, Yap 17, Daquioag 14, Almazan 12, Belga 11, Nambatac 9, Borboran 5, Ponferada 4, Trollano 0, King 0, Onwubere 0
Quarterscores:26-23, 44-43, 72-71, 99-95