Talk 'N Text's Ranidel De Ocampo goes to the basket against Ginebra's Billy Mamaril and Jay-r Reyes. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Just as Calvin Abueva fouled out at the start of the fourth quarter, Alaska Milk unleashed a decisive flurry to cut loose from a tight duel and earn a playoff shot at the last quarterfinals berth in the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup on a key 89-80 victory over the Barako Bull Energy Cola at the Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
With flamboyant Abueva gone, Jayvee Casio, Gabby Espinas, RJ Jazul and Tony dela Cruz did the job with no frills and fancy as the Aces salvaged their last game in the elimination round and set up a sudden death with the Meralco Bolts for the right to battle top-seed Barangay Ginebra in the Final Eight.
Without a rest and the opportunity to prepare for needed adjustments, the Aces tangle with the Bolts in a knockout setto at 8 p.m. Monday over at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Meanwhile, the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters pushed themselves hard in their non-bearing duel with the Barangay Ginebra Kings and pulled off a 103-79 rout at the close of the elims.
“We lived to fight another game. We’re playing Meralco and we need to move forward,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
“It’s been painful for us this conference. Out of our nine losses, six could’ve gone either way. But it’s a real nice opportunity to be here now. Players dream of this kind of situation where you can turn things around,” Trillo also said.
“We’re facing a team that’s hungry. There are new guys there that want to win badly. We need guys helping out. Hopefully, we learn and grow,” he added.
Casio fired four three-pointers and top scored with 24 points, Espinas contributed 21 markers and nine rebounds, Jazul added three treys and a total of 11 points while Dela Cruz chipped in two crucial baskets in their lethal fourth-quarter run.
Cyrus Baguio and Sonny Thoss had their shares done silently but effectively as the Aces scored the victory that forced a four-way tie from sixth to ninth among Alaska, Barako Bull, Globalport and Meralco at 5-9.
With superior quotient, the Energy Cola and the Batang Pier automatically advanced to the quarters as the sixth and seventh seeds ranged against No. 3 Petron Blaze and No. 2 Rain or Shine, respectively.
As the top two seeds, the Kings and the Elasto Painters enjoy twice-to-beat advantage.
Petron and Barako Bull figure in a best-of-three series, and so do three-time defending all-Filipino champion Talk n Text and Governors Cup titlist San Mig Coffee.
The Commissioner’s Cup champs Aces, having survived one knockout game, need to hurdle three more if they’re to make the Final Four.
The Aces were down by two, 64-66, before coming through with a 23-6 attack to rip the Energy Cola apart.
Casio started strong, pouring in 10 points in the opening quarter, and he himself ignited their fourth-quarter salvo with a three-pointer and a transition layup.
Again with some extra-curricular activities and going into foul trouble early, Abueva was able to play only 15 minutes.
The 2013 Rookie of the Year awardee had an encounter with JC Intal after he crushed down with his elbow first on the face of the Barako Bull player.
He fouled out with still 10:23 left to play.
Alas, it appeared to be the signal the Aces were looking for to make the decisive move in the game.