MANILA, Philippines – The Barako Bull Energy got a strong performance from two-time PBA Best Import Gabe Freeman as they trounced the Alaska Aces, 106-85, in Game 3 of their quarter-finals series to advance to the semi-finals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Freeman, who joined Barako only a week ago, scored 34 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to help the Energy set up a semi-finals meeting with defending champions Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters.
"Una sa lahat, gusto kong pasalamatan ang Panginoon, pero I also have to give credit to my players," Barako coach Junel Baculi told PBA.ph. "I told them before the game that there's only one stumbling block for us to the semi-finals, and you deserve to be there. They responded very well."
Baculi also commended Freeman, saying “You cannot ask anything more of him.”
"He flew in straight from Canada, has recovered from jetlag and now gives you 34 points and 19 rebounds," he added.
Ronald Tubid and Willie Miller both scored 20 points to help Barako's cause, but it was Barako's tenacious defense that allowed them to rout the Aces.
Barako put the clamps on Alaska's key players LA Tenorio (9 points) and Cyrus Baguio (14 points). Alaska's import Adam Parada had 18 points but only grabbed 7 rebounds, a conference-low.
Tenorio, Baguio and Parada did not even play in the final minutes of the game as Barako extended their lead to as much as 23 points, 99-76.
Alaska big man Sonny Thoss, who helped defend Freeman in their Game 2 victory, was ineffective this time around as he finished with six points and two rebounds.
Barako won the series opener, 103-90, but Alaska forced a do-or-die Game 3 with a 99-92 win in the second game.
It is the first time that Baculi has led Barako to the semi-finals.
BARAKO 106 - Freeman 34, Tubid 20, Miller 20, Seigle 12, Najorda 10, Pennisi 3, Arboleda 3, Allado 2, Pena 2, Salvador 0.
ALASKA 85 - Parada 18, Baguio 14, Reyes 13, Baracael 12, Custodio 9, Tenorio 9, Thoss 6, Eman 2, Gonzales 2, Salamat 0, Gelig 0.
Quarterscores: 25-24, 55-42, 78-63, 106-85