After a long break to make way for the PBA All-Star festivities, the Alaska Aces and San Mig Coffee Mixers made their way back to the Smart Araneta Coliseum to battle it out in the third game of the semifinals series.
AND WHAT A GAME IT WAS!
The San Mig Coffee Mixers had a pretty comfortable lead in the first half. They were able to effectively defend the Aces, limiting their scoring to only 32 points in the first two quarters. It seemed like Denzel Bowles would be able to redeem himself after Robert Dozier’s impressive 28-point and 27-rebound performance in Game 2. Aside from Bowles, Marc Pingris was also very determined coming into the game – playing an aggressive game and scoring several points inside. JVee Casio, Alaska’s top local scorer in the last game, was silent during the first few quarters. I guess we could say things were looking up for SMC.
However, the Aces weren’t about to give up that easily. Their determination in the second half caught the Coffee Mixers off guard, as they slowly and surely made runs to tie the game. With only a few seconds left, Alaska was only up by one point when Denzel Bowles was fouled. Bowles surprisingly split from the line to tie the game, and Jazul missed an open lay-up to send the game into overtime.
SMC was ready for a physical game but they weren’t ready to go into overtime. SMC’s energy significantly dwindled in the crucial last few minutes while the Aces were able to go full force. Jazul definitely made up for his missed layup by opening up overtime with a 3-point play, to be followed by a triple and a crucial steal. The Aces ended up with a huge comeback win at 89-81.
How the game was won:
In the last game, it was all about defense and teamwork. This time, it was all about the determination and individual efforts of two local players – namely Calvin Abueva and RJ Jazul.
Calvin Abueva made his presence felt in the third quarter, single-handedly closing the 16-point scoring gap with consecutive aggressive plays. When everything seemed to be going wrong for his team, the rookie decided to take the lead and succeeded offensively. He was named Player of the Game with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Of course, JVee Casio also came up with a 10-point run in the 4th quarter to keep Alaska in the game. Though he was unable to score in the first few quarters, he heated up right when it mattered.
RJ Jazul finished what Abueva and Casio started in regulation, immediately putting Alaska up by six once the overtime period started. The Aces played steady defense, stopping the Coffee Mixers from scoring and getting several crucial rebounds.
Preview for the next game:
ALA vs SMC has been a great match-up so far so we can expect the fourth game to be the most exciting one. The Coffee Mixers will definitely do their best to prepare both mentally and physically for a pumped up Alaska Aces. Momentum is on the side of the Aces and they will be even more inspired knowing that they only need one more game to get into the Finals. However, they cannot afford to relax since SMC is a veteran team handled by a very experienced Tim Cone. If they can keep up their intensity, I think the Aces will be able to grab their finals spot this coming Friday.