PBA: Alaska sends Meralco home, faces Magnolia in the Finals

MANILA, Philippines – The 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals is set as the Alaska Aces closed the series against the Meralco Bolts, 99-92 on Saturday, November 17 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Alaska sends Meralco home, faces Magnolia in the Finals
Mike Harris produced a 27 points and 14 boards to help Alaska advanced to the Finals versus Magnolia Hotshots | Photo Credit: pba.ph

Now that the first finals seat has already been occupied by the Magnolia Hotshots, the Alaska Aces with just a win away from taking the last spot were very eager to finish off the Meralco Bolts tonight.

Knowing Coach Norman Black, he will not be that easy to overcome and his team won’t go down without swinging. With a do-or-die mindset, the Bolts got away from the Aces in the 1st quarter.

Led by Allen Durham, Meralco led the Aces by 14 but it was brought down to a single-digit as the clock winded down. 28-21 was the score after the first 12 minutes. Durham led all scorers with 10 points.

Hoping to save and extend their season, Coach Black finally re-activated Cliff Hodge from the injury list to help his team in rebounding as well as defend against Alaska import, Mike Harris. Hodge however, hadn’t produced a point nor a board in less than a minute of play time in the 2nd period.

Despite Cliff Hodge’s slow start, Meralco still led Alaska in the second. Thanks to the ever reliable local top scorer, veteran Reynel Hugnatan who was also in double-figure aside from Allen Durham.

Meralco’s lead had gone down to just 1 as Mike Harris activated his offensive instinct towards the end of the half. Bolts’ headed to the dugout with a thin 48-47 advantage.

Utilizing his seldom-used players are now paying off for Coach Alex Compton. In game 3, he gave Davon Potts and Carl Cruz a rare opportunity to showcase their talents that resulted to a win. Tonight, it was Kevin Racal’s to turn to shine. Racal didn’t disappoint Coach Compton as he dropped 2 consecutive treys in the 3rd quarter.

Harris continued to get help from his teammates that made them hold onto their margin in the third.

Meralco tried to lower the gap and attacked the basket multiple times but they missed of their shots even the open ones.

Harris, Casio and Teng all got into double-digits and helped Alaska gained a 68-60 advantage after the 3rd period.

A 7-1 scoring run gave Meralco a boost and a ray hope early in the final period as they tied the score at 73. Reynel Hugnatan, Chris Newsome and Nico Salva became instrumental in chasing the Aces. All 3 players had 10 while Baser Amer knocked on the doors offensively as well.

Just as the Bolts got closer with the Aces, Mike Harris once again stepped on the gas and escalated the margin to double-digit once again.

At the 2-minute warning, the Aces just protected a 3-point lead. Coach Compton called for a ceasefire to assure that they will not give a chance to their rivals and force them a rubber match come Monday.

Meralco had its chances to even the game but again, they kept on missing their shots and officially conceded to Alaska, 99-92.

The Alaska Aces will be facing the Magnolia Hotshots on their best-of-seven finals series starting on December 5, 2018 (Wednesday) at the Mall of Asia after the end of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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