Aces grab top spot, halt Gin Kings run

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Gabby Espinas (dark/alaska) vs Vernon Macklin. PBA IMAGES / Nuki Sabio

Alaska blew a 14-point first half lead and then weathered a huge Barangay Ginebra rally in the stretch to pound out a 102-93 decision last night that snapped the Gin Kings’ six-game winning run and gave the Aces top seeding in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.

Robert Dozier scored 11 points in the fourth period, and Cyrus Baguio—with a bad back and all—hit the go-ahead drive with 4:33 remaining as the Aces improved to 10-3 and would clinch No. 1 regardless of the outcome of their game against Globalport tomorrow.

Dozier finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds at Smart Araneta Coliseum, delivering when needed in the stretch to ultimately win his personal battle with hardworking Ginebra counterpart Vernon Macklin.

Ginebra trailed, 55-41, entering the third period. But the Kings opened up the second half with 16 unanswered points.

At 7-6, the Kings dropped out of contention for a top two berth and the twice-to-beat privilege.

“No. 1 is nothing but a twice-to-beat privilege,” Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said. “We still have to win one game in the quarterfinals to make the Final Four.”

Denzel Bowles and Marc Pingris churned out double-double figures as San Mig Coffee blasted Air21, 80-66, in the first game to lift the defending champion Mixers into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Talk ‘N Text has enlisted the services of Jerome Jordan, a 7-foot Jamaican who saw brief action for the New York Knicks in the NBA.

Jordan will replace Donnell Harvey, who left the team over the weekend to attend to a family emergency in the United States.

The scores:

First Game

SAN MIG COFFEE 80—Bowles 29, Pingris 14, Simon 12, Barroca 9, Devance 7, Gaco 6, Mallari 2, de Ocampo 1, Najorda 0, Yap 0, Gonzales 0, Reavis 0.

AIR21 66—Canaleta 26, Dunigan 18, Isip 10, Omolon 4, Menor 2, Custodio 2, Cortez 2, Arboleda 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Wiklson 0, Baclao 0, Ritualo 0.

Quarters: 20-16; 39-29; 60-45; 80-66

Second Game

ALASKA 102—Dozier 28, Baguio 13, Espinas 12, Abueva 11, Hontiveros 10, Casio 8, Thoss 8, Dela Cruz 6, Jazul 4, Ramos 2.

BRGY. GINEBRA 93—Macklin 27, Tenorio 19, Baracael 16, Labagala 8, Raymundo 8, Hatfield 7, Espiritu 3, Ellis 2, Helterbrand 2, Taha 1, Jensen 0, Maierhofer 0, Wilson 0.

Quarters: 30-18; 55-41; 71-69; 102-93

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