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PBA: Alaska back in the semis after rout of Meralco

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Calvin Abueva vs Reynel Hugnatan and Macmac Cardona. PBA/Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines — Alaska is back in the semifinals.

Alaska swept Meralco in their best-of-three semifinals series, punctuating its performance with an 88-70 victory in game two Friday in the 2012 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Aces led from start to finish and thwarted every attempt of the Bolts to mount a comeback, en route to the semis-clinching victory.

Four from the Alaska side chipped in double-digits, but it was Calvin Abueva — who is largely the reason for the Aces’ turnaround — led with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

Both Abueva and JVee Casio, who had 17 this game, made up for their lackadaisical offensive showing in the 90-84 victory in game one.

Early in the payoff period, Meralco Bolts were slowly inching in — though not within single digits — but five points from Dondon Hontiveros snuffed out any chances of a comeback.

“We did well defensively, but I feel Meralco’s legs were not there. They’re a tired team. So you take advantage,” said head coach Luigi Trillo, steering the Aces back into the top four since Tim Cone’s departure.

The last time Alaska made it to the semifinals — they went all the way, and won the title in the 2010 PBA Fiesta Cup with Diamond Simpson in tow.

For Trillo, it’s a dream come true to be back in the semifinals — but he knows they’re going to have their hands full against Talk N’ Text.

The Texters and the Aces start their semis series next Wednesday.

Mac Cardona had 18 points, while Sol Mercado added 15 for the Bolts, who missed the bus to the semifinals anew this conference.

Things started off heated with no side wanting to give an inch, but rookie Cliff Hodge ended up with three fouls in the first half alone.

The scores:

ALASKA 88 – Abueva 18, Baguio 18, Casio 17, Espina 13, Jazul 8, Baracael 6, Hontiveros 5, Thoss 3, Dela Cruz 0, Belasco 0.

MERALCO 70 – Cardona 18, Mercado 15, Hodge 11, Hugnatan 9, Ross 6, Salvacion 6, Reyes 4, Buenafe 1, Bulawan 0, Sharma 0.

Quarters: 26-16, 44-34, 70-55, 88-70

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