(Photo from PBA Images)
The Gatas Republik was all set for the championship balloons to come down from the rafters, but had to save its hopes for now as San Miguel Beer put up a gallant fight and denied Alaska in overtime, 110-104, on Sunday to extend the 2016 Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup Finals Series at the PhilSports Arena, Pasig.
Coach Alex Compton’s defense-oriented Aces got the best of San Miguel onset of the first frame, and poised to sweep the Best-of-Seven Finals series that would have made them the first team to beat the Beermen in four-straight outings.
Alaska led by as much as 10 points midway down the second canto which basically set up the tone for a bubble cushion, yet the Beermen slowly got their groove back and trimmed the deficit down to tally a 43-49 mark at halftime.
With the momentum rising on their end, the June Mar Fajardo-less Beermen took on a heavy duty of plotting a comeback to open the third period behind the heroics of Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, and Chris Ross.
Coach Leo Austria’s wards were heating up en route to their comeback stance, only to face another threat again as Jvee Casio knocked down a trey for an 11-point Alaska lead, 93-82, which momentarily disoriented San Miguel Beer anew.
Marcio Lassiter, who led all scorers in San Miguel Beer, hit clutch treys from downtown to bubble the Beermen’s lead, yet it was the Cabagnot-Santos-Ross trio who polished the backbreaking fightback in the endgame.
The Beermen successfully gained the upperhand, 98-95, with just a few seconds left on the final stretch, but no thanks to a buzzer-beater triple sent by Cyrus Baguio to knot the cards at 98-all, which then revived the tempo of the Alaska Aces and send the tight match to an overtime thriller.
Alaska pushed for another deadlock halfway through the extra session at 102-all, but Alex Cabagnot was at the right place at the right time for a three-pointer which sparked the finishing touches heading to San Miguel Beer’s victory.
Marcio Lassiter capped off with 26 markers for San Miguel Beer, while Gabby Espinas, who was fouled out during the endgame surge, finished with 21 points.
In addition, Alex Cabagnot registered 16 hits, followed by Chris Ross and Arwind Santos with 11 points apiece.
Vic Manuel tallied the highest for Alaska once again with 20 points, but his effort was in vain as the Aces still have to face San Miguel Beer in Game Five, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
SAN MIGUEL BEER (110) – Lassiter 26, Espinas 21, Cabagnot 16, Ross 11, Santos 11, Tubid 8, De Ocampo 6, Lutz 4, Reyes 4, Heruela 3, Arana 0, Omolon 0, Semerad 0.
ALASKA ACES (104) – Manuel 20, Abueva 14, Hontiveros 14, Casio 13, Banchero 12, Baguio 11, Thoss 9, Exciminiano 5, Jazul 4, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 0, Menk 0.