Alaska slips into quarters, pushes NLEX to playoff trouble

Published November 9, 2020, 6:54 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Maverick Ahanmisi of Alaska attacks the basket against Anthony Semerad of NLEX. (PBA Images)

Alaska put away one complicated scenario in the quarterfinal race Monday night with a 122-119 overtime victory over NLEX in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

Mike DiGregorio and Maverick Ahanmisi scored key baskets in the extra five-minute period as the Aces overcame Kiefer Ravena’s offensive outburst to gain safe passage to the quarters with a 7-4 record to end the eliminations.

The Aces’ victory also sent the defending champion San Miguel Beermen, Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and Meralco Bolts, teams with identical 6-4 slates, into the last eight as the Road Warriors fell to 4-6.

Also benefiting from the result is Rain or Shine, which only needs to win one of its last two games to complete the quarterfinal cast. The Elasto Painters face the TNT Tropang Giga and Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters on Tuesday and Wednesday.

NLEX, which saw its three-game winning streak snapped, has no recourse to beat Terrafirma on Wednesday to conclude the elims.

“It was very difficult and that’s what we’ve expected because we knew how hot NLEX is in the last 3-4 games,” said Alaska coach Jeffrey Cariaso, whose team looked like it was on the verge of pulling off a win in regulation.

Back-to-back threes by Robbie Herndon had given Alaska two four-point leads, the last at 106-102. Ravena, who finished with 30 points, scored two consecutive three-point plays to give NLEX a 108-106 lead before Casio scored a layup with over 30 seconds left that eventually sent the contest to overtime.

Alaska, however, restored order in its favor, taking two five-point leads on a DiGregorio three and a Ahanmisi basket for 118-113 and 120-115. Ravena scored off Ahanmisi’s sixth and final foul but missed a bonus free throw to pull NLEX within three.

NLEX did make some stops but couldn’t convert two game-tying threes from Raul Soyud and Ravena in the final seconds.

Ahanmisi, a late entry into the bubble, had his best performance at Smart Clark Giga City with a season-high 25 points while Casio added 19 points, five rebounds and three steals.

The scores:

ALASKA 122 — Ahanmisi 25, Casio 19, Tratter 16, Herndon 14, Teng 13, Manuel 11, Brondial 8, Ayaay 5, Ebona 0, Galliguez 0.

NLEX 119 — Ravena 30, Cruz 18, Alas 13, Miranda 9, Soyud 9, Semerad 8, Ighalo 5, Varilla 3, Porter 0, Ayonayon 0.

Quarters: 17-23, 53-49, 75-75, 108-108 (Reg), 122-119 (OT).