MANILA, Philippines – Alaska booked a trip to the PBA Philippine Cup Final 4 by overpowering a listless Meralco, 88-70, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.
Calvin Abueva and Cyrus Baguio each scored 18 points to help the Aces sweep the Bolts in their best-of-3 quarterfinals series.
According to the league’s official website, Meralco had trouble recovering after falling into a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.
“I didn’t expect that it would be like this,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
It will be the Aces’ first semifinals appearance since parting ways with now B-Meg coach Tim Cone last season.
Trillo said the Bolts may have gassed out after playing three games in five days.
Adding to Meralco’s woes was a hobbling Sol Mercado, who was a vital cog in their offensive lineup.
“They just lacked the energy,” said Trillo. “Had they not been tired and had Sol been healthy, things could have been different.”
Macmac Cardona topscored for Meralco with 18 points, while Mercado added 15.
But the Bolts’ effort fell short against the Aces’ balanced attack.
Aside from tallying 18 points, Abueva had a game-high 12 caroms.
JV Casio also performed well with 17 points, 8 of them coming in the crucial second period where Alaska posted a 44-34 advantage going into the fourth.
The Aces will tackle defending champion Talk N Text in a best-of-7 semis showdown starting Thursday.