ALASKA Aces only scored 11 points against Magnolia Hotshots in the fourth quarter of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, but that turned out to be enough.
The Aces held on against the Hotshots on Tuesday night, 89-78, to clinch the first semifinal seat in the mid-season conference.
Alaska thought it had pulled away after a 32-19 third quarter blast that opened a 78-62 lead entering the final frame.
However, Magnolia banked anew on its fourth quarter defensive shutdown, outscoring Alaska, 16-4, to cut the lead down to four, 82-78, with 3:30 to go.
Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero, however, saved the Aces from collapse, scoring the game’s last seven points as the Hotshots went scoreless from thereon.
Manuel came off the bench to lead Alaska, which entered the semifinals for the first time since making the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup Finals, with 22 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, and a block.
Diamon Simpson put up a good all-around game of 13 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals, and two blocks as Alaska awaits the winner of the San Miguel Beermen-TNT KaTropa series in the next round.
San Miguel looks to sweep its series against TNT on Wednesday night.
Wayne Chism battled through foul trouble and made 20 markers, 15 rebounds, one assist, and one steal for Magnolia, which missed the semifinals for the first time with coach Chito Victolero at the helm.