DEFENDING champion Alaska whipped injury-plagued San Mig Super Coffee, 85-66 to close the single-round eliminations on a high note in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup’s Easter Sunday offering at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces finished the eliminations with five straight victories to officially enter the playoffs as third seed with their 6-3 win-loss record after a game that saw both sides dig deep into their benches.
The Mixers, who could enter the playoffs either as fifth or sixth seed, depending on the outcome of the Rain or Shine-Ginebra in the second game, rested four key players ahead of the playoffs.
Import James Mays was dealing with upper respiratory tract infection and back spasms while forward Marc Pingris and rookie guard Justin Melton have bruised left rib and fractured right middle finger, respectively.
James Yap also sat out the match.
Both squads could possibly meet again starting on Monday in a best-of-three quarterfinal series if the Gin Kings drop their all-important match against the Elasto Painters.
“You look at San Mig, their three best players weren’t there. So to them, it’s about rest, for us, it’s about rhythm,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
Trillo said he’s bracing for a tougher competition in the playoffs, especially since they could either face the Mixers or the Gin Kings in the quarterfinal stage.
“Both (teams are) hard (to play). You say San Mig is injured, but for sure, they are twice as smart and twice as sharp tomorrow (Monday),” added Trillo, who played all 15 of his players in the game.
No player scored in double figures for the aces.
Import Rob Dozier, who played just 14 minutes, along with seldom-used guard Raphael Reyes and Vic Manuel led the Aces with eight points each.
Yancy de Ocampo led the Mixers with 10 points, while Val Acuna and Jerwin Gaco, who are part of the team’s third group, added nine points apiece.
Alaska 85 - Dozier 8, Reyes 8, Manuel 8, Jazul 7, Buenafe 7, Abueva 7, Espinas 6, Eximiniano 6, Eman 6, Casio 5, Baguio 5, De La Cruz 4, Thoss 4, Belasco 2, Hontiveros 2.
San Mig coffee 66 - De Ocampo 10, Acuna 9, Gaco 9, Cawaling 8, Devance 6, Simon 5, Reavis 5, Barroca 4, Mallari 4, Holstein 4, Sangalang 2.
Quarterscores: 22-14; 44-34; 67-48; 85-66.