Alaska nabs 6th seed in PBA playoffs after gritty win over Ginebra
MANILA, Philippines — Alaska needed to win to avoid elimination and had to win by at least six points over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to keep itself out of a twice-to-win situation in the playoffs.
The Aces did both on Wednesday following a 104-98 victory over the Kings in the final game of the elimination round of the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I’m just grateful that we made the playoffs, really grateful,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “It’s been a tough conference for us. It’s really been a tough conference for us.”
Off a timeout, veteran swingman Dondon Hontiveros and import Damion James perfected the play Compton mapped out with James receiving the sideline inbound pass from Hontiveros for the easy layup with 4.8 seconds left that secured the Aces the six-point winning margin they needed to get the sixth seed.
A win below six points for Alaska meant having to beat No. 2 Talk ‘N Text twice in the quarterfinals.
James finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds while Cyrus Baguio had 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field on top of five assists and three rebounds.
Alaska led by as much as 15 in the third quarter before Ginebra, buoyed by its boisterous fans, stormed back and even took a 90-89 edge with 5:04 left on two free throws by Mac Baracael, who replaced the injured Japeth Aguilar.
Aguilar hurt his right ankle as he was about to go for a shot against Alaska guard JVee Casio.
Calvin Abueva added 16 points including a basket near the rim off an outlet pass by Casio that made it, 100-96, with 45.6 seconds left.
Michael Dunigan fired a game-high 32 points that went with 13 rebounds for the Kings, who finished at No. 8 and will face top-seeded Rain or Shine.
The best-of-three quarterfinals starts on Friday with No. 4 NLEX taking on Meralco at 4:15 p.m. and Alaska clashing with defending champion Purefoods at 7:00 p.m. also at the Big Dome.