Alaska Aces refused to complicate things as it dumped the Magnolia Hotshots, 89-78, in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Tuesday evening.
Armed with a twice-to-beat incentive, the Aces pulled away in the third period then survived Magnolia’s gallant stand down the stretch to clinch a semifinals slot.
Vic Manuel came through with a stellar performance of 22 points on 50-percent shooting from the field, on top of nine rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in over 24 minutes off the bench.
Chris Banchero had 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Import Diamon Simpson got a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds with four assists, four steals, and two blocks, while Sonny Thoss and Kevin Racal chipped in 11 and 10 markers, respectively, to help Alaska make its first semifinals trip in two years.
After a tight first half, the Aces flexed their muscles in the third canto with a 32-19 output that gave them their largest lead, 78-62.
The Hotshots, though, refused to go away, with Andy Barroca cutting the deficit to just four, 78-82, 3:30 to go. But Manuel and Banchero conspired in a 7-0 run to put away the game for good for Alaska.
Wayne Chism led the way for Magnolia with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Ian Sangalang was the only Hotshots local to finish in double figures with 14 points, along with six boards, two assists, and two blocks in a lost cause as they failed to make the semis for the first time since coach Chito Victolero took over.
Alaska will now await the winner between TNT and San Miguel’s best-of-three quarterfinals matchup with the Beermen leading that series, 1-0.
ALASKA 89 – Manuel 22, Banchero 14, Simpson 13, Thoss 11, Racal 10, Exciminiano 7, Enciso 4, Cruz 3, Casio 2, Teng 2, Baclao 1.
MAGNOLIA 78 – Chism 20, Sangalang 14, Barroca 9, Lee 8, Jalalon 8, Ramos 6, Simon 6, Dela Rosa 5, Brondial 2, Reavis 0, Melton 0, Herndon 0.
Quarter scores: 26-21, 46-43, 78-62, 89-78.