PBA: Alaska edges San Miguel, claims third semis spot

MANILA, Philippines – The Alaska Aces can now sleep well as they finally erased their “Beeracle” nightmare after eliminating the San Miguel Beermen, 96-85 on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

For quite some time, San Miguel used to dominate the league’s tri-conference with June Mar Fajardo on its roster. But come Governor’s Cup, the 4-Time MVP spent most of his time at the sick bay that resulted to his team’s 6-5 mediocre conference run.


Now with “The Kraken” back in the rotation, the Beermen will try to thwart Alaska Aces’ twice-to-beat advantage and occupy one of the last two semis spots.

Coach Leo Austria started the game with Fajardo sitting on the bench that gave Alaska’s reinforcement, Mike Harris a big chance to attack the basket and post an early 23-19 lead against SMB after the inaugural quarter.

Mike Harris’ game-high 25 points helped Alaska claimed the third semis spot
Mike Harris’ game-high 25 points helped Alaska claimed the third semis spot | Photo Credit: pba.ph

Aces’ Harris got into double-figure too early but his local teammates provided him enough support to escalate their lead to 8 with few minutes gone by in the 2nd period.

June Mar Fajardo’s presence on the floor didn’t do much offensively for his team. Surprisingly, it was his co-big man, Kelly Nabong who made an impact along with their import Kevin Murphy who both had 8 points.

Alaska’s weakness was clearly exposed mid of the second as the Beermen clamped down on Mike Harris who just made 2 points in the entire quarter.

San Miguel’s defense on Harris paid off as the Beermen managed to trim Alaska’s lead to just 1, 43-42 after the 1st half.

To counter San Miguel’s surge, Coach Alex Compton urged his squad to beat the Beermen in a foot race and reinstate their double-digit lead through transition offense. Just like that, Alaska possessed a 42-32 lead as they began the 3rd period.

It took SMB almost 6 minutes before Kevin Murphy moved the scoreboard in the third. In contrast, the Aces made a 12-0 run to stabilize their margin.

Offensive drought continued for the Beermen until the end of the penultimate quarter. They had only recorded 7 points and let Alaska dropped 21 on them. The Aces enjoyed a 15-point, 64-49 lead entering the final canto.

San Miguel had the chance to bounce back in the 4th quarter as Chris Banchero stayed on the sidelines due to ankle sprain and Mike Harris experienced cramps in both legs. Despite Alaska’s misfortunes, its 20-point margin blocked SMB’s way in extending the series to a do-or-die.

The Beermen knew that they’re all done after Coach Austria recalled their import and other star players with over 4 minutes left in the game.

At the final buzzer, the Aces officially ended San Miguel’s conference with a 96-85 victory and now await the winner of Phoenix Fuel Masters - Meralco Bolts series where the Bolts erased the twice-to-beat advantage of the Fuel Masters and forced a rubber match on Friday.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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