PBA: Ginebra massacres Alaska to earn semis ticket
MANILA, Philippines - With one team at the brink of a breakthrough and the other at the cusp of disappointment, the eighth seed Alaska Aces and the top seed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel fought tooth and nail for the entire 48 minutes on Saturday, January 25.
At the final buzzer, however, Ginebra was able to avoid disappointment as they flashed their playoff form and downed Alaska, 108-95, to punch their ticket to the semis of the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup.
Filled to the rafters, the Cuneta Astrodome rocked amid the intense playoff atmosphere. According to head coach Ato Agustin, his team fed off it hungrily.
"Napakalaking help yung crowd," he said. (The crowd was a big help.)
"I think yung intensity namin napakataas and the energy is there," he said. "Ang key dito is we were able to dictate the tempo." (I think our intensity was very high and the energy is there. The key here is we were able to dictate the tempo."
The match, with its huge stakes, got so heated that a technical foul and a flagrant foul were already called in just the first quarter of play. The Aces got the short end of the stick as far as breaks of the game with head coach Luigi Trillo and sophomore Calvin Abueva taking the fall for the aforementioned fouls.
Ginebra, reeling from two consecutive losses, poured out their frustrations and sniped away at will in the first half to lead by 21 points, 31-10, after Jayjay Helterbrand buried a triple from the top of the key.
It didn't take long before the physicality manifested itself again. By the second period, another flagrant 1 foul was called - this time on Ginebra's Mark Caguioa for an elbow on Abueva.
Ginebra led by as much as 31, 76-45, on a Japeth Aguilar and-one play at the start of the third. Aguilar came away with a career high 29 points on his 27th birthday.
Late in the fourth, the Aces quietly crept up on Ginebra with an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to 14, 102-88, on an RJ Jazul three-pointer with 2:34 remaining. But it came a little too late as LA Tenorio completed an and-one play on the other end to pad on the lead again, 105-88.
Ginebra was able to shake off, at least for this game, their recurring problem of getting complacent as they never eased up on the gas pedal the entire second half as well. An unlike their first meeting, it was Alaska who was out-hustled this time with second-chance points (24-18), turnover points (24-9) and fastbreak points (14-12) going the way of Ginebra. Alaska, however, managed to out-rebound Ginebra by a hair, 52-51.
The Aces drew double-digit outputs from 6 of its players, including main playmaker JVee Casio, Gabby Espinas, and Calvin Abueva. They also shot better from the stripe, going 26-of-37. Alaska also made more triples, 9-8.
For Agustin, this game serves as vindication for their miserable losses and poor showings.
"Hindi na mangyayari yun," he assured their lackluster play during the first quarterfinal showdown against Alaska will never happen again. "Kaya na namin gawin ngayon (the energy), kaya namin ulitin." (That's not gonna happen again. We did it now, we can do it again."
Scores: Ginebra (108): Aguilar 29, Tenorio 22, Ellis 16, Baracael 12, Caguioa 12, Slaughter 11, Helterbrand 5, Mamaril 1
Alaska (95): Casio 16, Espinas 16, Jazul 14, Abueva 13, Thoss 13, Baguio 13, Hontiveros 6, Avenido 4
Quarters: 39-21, 69-43, 86-62, 108-95