Alaska made sure its last dance is far from finished after bucking an early deficit to beat NLEX, 93-79, Wednesday, March 16 and force their quarterfinal matchup in the PBA Governors’ Cup to a rubber match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jeron Teng, Mike Tolomia and Yousef Taha turned in big performances in the second half as the Aces extended their lifeline to at least one game at the expense of the Road Warriors, who hold a twice-to-beat advantage.
The Aces, in their final conference before bidding goodbye to the pro league, can continue their run with another victory over the Road Warriors on Saturday at the same venue.
Teng led all locals with 16 points, Tolomia scored all of his points in the third quarter when the Aces were able to pull away from a 40-38 halftime lead while Taha provided quality minutes with nine points and 12 rebounds.
New import Mark St. Fort had a pedestrian 17-point, 14-rebound numbers after replacing Olu Ashaolu but Cariaso hopes that the Bahamian cager can put up a better performance with high stakes on the line in the do-or-die affair.
NLEX fell short in its first attempt at reaching the semifinals despite leading by 16 in the second quarter.
But the Road Warriors couldn’t sustain a 34-18 advantage as the Aces scored 22 points while allowing just four the rest of the period to grab the driver seat by intermission.
Alaska slowly built its lead amid a low-scoring affair while NLEX couldn’t convert shots, particularly from the three-point line when it missed 23 of 25 from beyond the arc.
Tolomia knocked down outside shots and scored inside and the Aces went into the fourth ahead 64-55. NLEX closed in at seven, 70-63, on Kevin Alas’ layup, but five straight points from Taha restored order in Alaska’s favor.
Cameron Clark, who arrived after original import KJ McDaniels left due to his wife giving birth, had a solid debut for the Road Warriors with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
Alas scored 17 but had only eight through three quarters on a 3-of-11 shooting for NLEX.
ALASKA 93 — St. Fort 17, Teng 16, Tratter 12, Tolomia 10, Digregorio 9, Taha 9, Ahanmisi 6, Bulanadi 5, Ilagan 3, Racal 3, Faundo 3, Stockton 0, Adamos 0.
NLEX 79 — Clark 25, Alas 17, Trollano 12, Rosales 7, Paniamogan 5, Quinahan 4, Nieto 3, Chua 2, Soyud 2, Ighalo 2, Miranda 0, Varilla 0.
Quarters: 12-26, 40-38, 64-55, 93-79.