NLEX put an end to Alaska’s fabled PBA tenure while booking a place in the semifinals with a 96-80 win in their do-or-die Governors’ Cup quarterfinal match Saturday, March 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Cam Clark bucked a nasty cut on his forehead by scoring 24 points as the Road Warriors dominated the Aces to arrange a best-of-five showdown with crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the semis.
Locals Kris Rosales, Justin Chua and Matt Nieto also came through as NLEX barged into the last four for just the second time in franchise history.
The Road Warriors led by as many as 24 as the Aces couldn’t repeat their inspiring performance that forced the decider, with import Mark St. Fort putting up a lousy showing.
In the end, Alaska supporters witnessed the end of its 36-year run in the pros, with the PBA putting up a short ceremony to honor the team that won 14 championships while producing memories that will last a lifetime.
But it is NLEX which is moving on, living up to its elimination round form as the second-ranked team.
Clark may have proven himself to be a worthy replacement to the highly-productive KJ McDaniels, but not after being forced to head back to the locker room five minutes into the game when he was hit with an elbow by Jeron Teng while the two were battling for possession of the ball.
He would come back with a plaster on his head and renewed focus, hitting 10 in the second which turned a tight contest into a 46-31 lead at the break.
The onslaught made it tough for Alaska to mount a comeback, particularly with St. Fort posting just two points through three quarters before ending the night with 14.
Rosales scored 12 points, Chua had 10 points and four rebounds while Nieto added 10 points and three assists.
Teng, a fixture since 2017, capped off his Alaska stint with 13 points, four rebounds and two assists while Mike DiGregorio and Mike Tolomia were the other Aces in double figures with 11 apiece.
NLEX 96 — Clark 24, Quinahan 12, Rosales 12, Chua 10, Nieto 10, Trollano 9, Alas 7, Soyud 7, Varilla 3, Ighalo 2, Murrell 0, Paniamogan 0, Semerad 0.
ALASKA 80 — St. Fort 14, Teng 13, DiGregorio 11, Tolomia 11, Bulanadi 8, Taha 8, Tratter 6, Ilagan 5, Ahanmisi 4, , Racal 0, Faundo 0.
Quarters: 21-20, 46-31, 71-52, 96-80.