MANILA, Philippines -- Purefoods Tender Juicy derailed Alaska’s entry in the semifinal round with a masterful 94-77 win Friday night in the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Rico Maierhofer delivered another inspiring performance for the Giants with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. He also hauled down 8 rebounds to lead his team to its third straight victory.
The Giants are now tied with Barangay Ginebra at the No. 3 spot with 11-6 win-loss apiece.
James Yap also had 15 markers for Purefoods, which assured at least a playoff for an automatic quarterfinal seat.
The win denied the Aces of claiming the second automatic semifinal slot although they have still two chances of advancing through the best-of-seven semis series.
Alaska, which dropped to 12-4, has still Burger King and Rain or Shine in its schedule and it just needs to win one more to claim the bonus.
After taking a precarious 18-16 lead in the first quarter, the Giants outscored the Aces in the next two periods, 51-38, for a 69-54 lead going to the fourth period.
Their lead reached as high as 21 points, 78-57 on Yap’s break-away lay-up before Alaska made a 13-0 run to slice the lead to 70-78, 4:48 remaining.
Maierhofer starred in Purefoods’ 11-4 attack to seal the win for the Giants, 89-74, less than three minutes left in the game.
KG Canalate and Roger Yap added 13 and 12 points respectively for Purefods while Paul Artadi and Kebry Raymunod each had 11 markers for coach Ryan Gregorio. Marc Pingris had 10 points while Rafi Reavis netted 7 points and 15 rebounds for the Giants.
Joe Devance led Alaska with 14 while Willie Miller had a quiet 13-point game for the Aces, who have now lost three of their last four games after a sizzling 11-1 start in the conference.
Coke on a roll
Rookie Chris Ross finally got out of his shell by leading Coca-Cola to a 105-83 victory over the slumping Rain or Shine for its second straight and 5th overall against 12 losses.
The No. 3 overall pick in the last Rookie Draft had a career-high 18 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, grabbed 9 rebounds and issued 4 assists in his best game so far in the league.
Mark Macapagal chipped in 17 points for the Tigers, who are now a win way of clinching a spot in the knockout wildcard stage.
“I challenged them, why complicate matters? Laruin na natin ang Rain or Shine rather than wait for the win against Barako Bull,” said Coke head coach Bo Perasol, referring to the team’s would be path to the next round.
“I commended my players for this win and we have one more important game to come,” he added.
Asi Taulava had another all-around performance for the Tigers with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists to follow up his 27-point, 15-rebound and 6-assist-game in their 118-107 win over San Miguel Beer last Wednesday.
RJ Rizada also contributed significantly to the victory of the Tigers with 13 points while Gary David chipped in 12 in his first game with Coke since he was traded from Burger King last January 4.
The Elasto Painters were still in the game after Mark Telan scored on a drive, 56-57 but Coke ended the third period with a 19-9 run to carry a 76-65 advantage going to the final canto.
David opened the fourth period with a reverse lay-up that started another 9-2 exchange for an 85-67 cushion with 9:07 remaining.
Rain or Shine’s only serious run was a quick 7-0 bomb capped by seldom-used guard Don Dulay, 74-85, but the Tigers responded with their own 12-0 burst to put the game out of reach, 97-74, under five minutes remaining.
Gabe Norwood, Sol Mercado and Eddie Laure each had 14 points for the Elasto Painters, who dropped their third straight game and slipped to No. spot with 4-13, just a full game ahead of cellar-dweller Barako Bull (3-13).