Alaska defeats ROS to assure of Top 4 finish


MANILA — The Alaska Aces assured themselves of a Top 4 finish with a tough 99-95 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Friday night.

JVee Casio registered his first career triple down, leading the Aces with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists along with two steals as Alaska ended the eliminations with a 7-4 win-loss card. Their fourth loss in nine games prevented the Painters from clinching a playoff spot. ROS faces two more tough rivals in San Miguel Beer (Feb. 28) and Barangay Ginebra (March 2). The Painters need to win at least one of those games to advance to the playoffs.

Alaska hardly missed Gilas standouts Calvin Abueva and Carl Bryan Cruz as well as Chris Banchero who was sidelined by injuries.

Rookies Jeron Teng and Marion Magat scored 14 points apiece, Kevin Racal added 13, Vic Manuel chipped in 12 while Sonny Thoss and Nick Enciso contributed 10 markers apiece.

Manuel broke the game’s final deadlock with a hook shot before Casio nailed two free throws to seal the victory.

Maverick Ahanmisi led ROS with 23 points, including 15 in the final quarter. He also collected five rebounds, five assists, and five steals.

San Miguel Beer 108, Kia 106

The defending champion San Miguel Beermen averted a huge disaster, escaping with a 108-106 victory over the upset-conscious Kia Picanto.

Marcio Lassiter saved the day for Beermen with a three-pointer and a layup at crunch time after the Picanto managed to raze a 26-point SMB lead in the third quarter and even grab the lead, 106-103, with about a minute left.

With the shaky wind, the Beermen improved to an 8-2 win-loss mark, tightening their grip on the top spot in the standings and moving on the verge of gaining a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. SMB can formally clinch the top seed with a victory next Wednesday against Rain or Shine, their last elimination round opponent.

Kia ended its Philippine Cup campaign with a 1-10 card.

Despite the absence of Gilas star June Mar Fajardo and injured point guard Alex Cabagnot, the Beermen appeared headed for a runaway victory after taking an 89-63 lead late in the third quarter,

However, instead of collapsing, the Picanto regrouped and mounted a terrific rally, outscoring the Beermen 35-17 bridging the third and fourth quarter.

With Kia up by three, Lassiter drained a cold-blooded triple to knot the score at 106-all. Regaining possession after a defensive stop, Chris Ross then made a dangerous but dazzling bounce pass underneath the basket that Lassiter caught for an easy undergoal stab for the win.

Lassiter finished with 22 points, including five three-pointers, along with five rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 35 minutes.

Arwind Santos top-scored for SMB with 27 points on top of 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and one steal in 37 minutes. Ross added nine points, 10 assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

Glenn Khobuntin led Kia with 15 points, pouring 11 of them in the fourth quarter, with his last basket giving the Picanto a 106-103 lead with less than two minutes left. Jackson Corpuz added 12 markers while Jonjon Gabriel, Rashawn McCarthy, and Mark Yee chipped in nine points apiece for the losing side.

Game Saturday: Magnolia Hotshots (7-3) vs. Meralco Bolts (4-6).