PUREFOODS survived a furious fightback by Alaska to eke out a 96-89 victory on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum and advance to the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Hotshots saw the real Aces show up late in the game as the comeback kings in the Philippine Cup tried to climb out of a 20-point deficit, before the former held on to close out the best-of-three quarterfinal series in just two games.
“It got scary there in the end,” said Hotshots coach Tim Cone, whose team breezed past the Aces, 120-86, in the opener last Friday. “They (Aces) showed their character and they came to play.”
“I can’t tell you how glad we are to get through this series with,” the multi-titled mentor added of the Aces, who just fell short of the winning the All-Filipino crown. “I really felt there was going to be a third game.”
The Hotshots thus set up a Final Four showdown with second seed Talk ‘N Text, which dispatched Barako Bull in their own quarterfinal pairing.
Denzel Bowles sustained his sizzling play with 32 points, 11 boards, four blocks, and four assists, while got solid support from the locals led by Joe Devance and Mark Barroca.
The unflappable Barroca came off the bench to fire 14 points, including half in a 13-0 blast bridging the last two quarters where the Hotshots established their biggest lead at 75-55.
RJ Jazul led the Aces’ familiar comeback, scoring 13 of his 22 markers in the payoff period to make the game interesting.
Alaska banked on their own 11-0 salvo, capped by a Damion James floater, late in the payoff period to nudge to within four points, 88-84 with two minutes and 12 seconds left, only to fall short.
Devance heated up early, scoring all but two of his 16 points in the first half, which ended with the Hotshots leading by just three points, before banking on that telling run.
PUREFOODS 96 – Bowles 32, Devance 16, Barroca 14, Yap 11, Mallari 7, Pingris 6, Maliksi 6, Simon 3, Melton 1, Reavis 0, Pennisi 0
ALASKA 89 – Jazul 22, James 21, Abueva 14, Casio 10, Thoss 8, Baguio 7, Banchero 3, Manuel 2, Hontiveros 2, Exciminiano 0, Menk 0, Dela Cruz 0, Baclao 0
Quarterscores: 30-21, 46-43, 70-55, 96-89