Aces stay alive, down LlamadosBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Aces pummeled the B-Meg Llamados in the second half on the way to a 105-86 victory Sunday night, but Cone ruefully acknowledged it barely enhanced their chances of making the title series of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“Barely, you know,” Cone said when told that his squad is still in the running for a seat in the best-of-seven Finals. “The thing we’ve been talking about until the (Barangay) Ginebra game was that we controlled our destiny.”
“Now we don’t,” he continued. “The opportunity was there and we weren’t ready to seize it. If it (making the Finals) is meant to be, it’s meant to be. But we can walk away with our heads held high.”
Cone was talking of the 77-81 loss to the Gin Kings Friday night, a setback that could go down as their most crucial in the tournament.
And should the Aces end up tied with Ginebra for second spot, the conference quotient will be applied and Alaska could be at the losing end after losing two lopsided games to Talk ‘N Text.
At 7-5 overall, Alaska could close out at 8-5 with another win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday also at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
But even then, that won’t assure the Aces of a seat in the Finals with several other teams still in the running of winning more than eight games.
“We just don’t have control of certain things,” Cone added.
Jason Forte scored a PBA career-high 42 points and plucked down 17 boards, and three others scored in twin digits for the Aces, who scored 68 points in the final two periods to post the rout.
James Yap led the Llamados with 25 points and B-Meg coach Jorge Gallent actually didn’t play import Myron Allen starting the halfway point of the third period onwards. Allen finished with just five points, all in the first period.
Already out of it all as early as last week, B-Meg lost for the second straight night and is now at 5-7.
Forte missed just six of 25 attempts from the field and helped control the board for the Aces, who outrebounded the Llamados, 44-37.
LA Tenorio had 10 points and eight assists despite being thrown a box-in-one defense by B-Meg all game.
The Aces will be playing against Rain or Shine possibly without slotman Jay-R Reyes, who was tossed out with just 21 seconds left in the third period after decking Jerwin Gaco with a wayward forearm.
Alaska is already without starting off-guard Cyrus Baguio, who has been out of the semifinals because of an MCL tear, and Wesley Gonzales, who tore his right meniscus in the game against Ginebra.
“Cyrus will be back if – and that is a very big if – we make the Finals,” Cone said.
Reyes, who was acquired from Air21 by the Aces, was slapped a Flagrant Foul 2 call for hitting Gaco in the head, an infraction that usually carries a hefty fine along with a one-game suspension.
Rain or Shine, meanwhile, stayed alive Saturday night after getting 33 points and 14 rebounds from Arizona Reid in a 102-86 victory over Petron Blaze in Digos, Davao del Sur.
Ronjay Buenafe equalled his career high with 30 markers and backstopped Reid as the Elasto Painters won a second straight game and rose to 6-5 overall.
More importantly, the win pushed Rain or Shine to within two more victories of availing the 4-of-5 semifinal incentive.
After Alaska, the Painters will tackle Barangay Ginebra on Friday.
Petron, which got 23 points from Anthony Grundy and 16 from Arwind Santos, dropped into a tie with the Painters and was eliminated from the 4-of-5 incentive picture after losing for the second time in the round.
ALASKA 105 – Forte 42, Thoss 17, Dela Cruz 15, Tenorio 10, Borboran 9, Custodio 7, Thiele 3, Reyes 2, Dimaunahan 0, Cablay 0.
B-MEG 86 – Yap J. 25, Simon 18, Urbiztondo 9, Devance 7, Pingris 6, Reavis 6, Allen 5, Gaco 4, Allado 4, Fernandez 2, Adducul 0.