Alaska Aces enters PBA Governors’ Cup finals

The Aces completed a three-game sweep of the defending PBA Govenors’ Cup champion Star Hotshots, 82-77, to reach the championship round on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Alaska, the No. 1 seed in these playoffs, defeated Star for a third straight game to breeze into the finals, where they will await the winner of the San Miguel-Rain or Shine series. Import Romeo Travis shrugged off some early struggles to finish with 19 points 10 in the fourth quarter alongside 10 rebounds. Vic Manuel added 14 points, as well as clutch basket in the final minute of the game, while Rome Dela Rosa and Cyrus Baguio each added 11.

Star’s defense held in the first half, especially on Alaska import Travis who was only able to score four points on four attempts with the Hotshots’ double-teaming proving effective. And with Star veterans James Yap and Marc Pingris leading the charge on the other end, the Hotshots were able to take a 46-37 lead at the halftime break. Yap scored nine points in the second period, at one point scoring seven unanswered to turn a two-point game into a 39-30 advantage for his team. Joe Devance knocked down a three to give Star a double-digit advantage, 44-34, at the two-minute mark of the quarter. Yap finished the half with 15 points, including three triples, while Pingris gave an all-around effort with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. Alaska made short work of that lead, however. With Calvin Abueva making things happen with his energy and JVee Casio firing away from beyond the arc, the Aces mounted a 12-2 run in the first four minutes of the third, taking a 49-48 lead. The teams traded runs before Alex Mallari scored seven in a 9-0 Star run late that made it, 65-58, in the Hotshots’ favor. Cyrus Baguio, though, struck late in the period to trim the margin to five heading into the fourth quarter. Manuel gave Alaska a boost early in fourth, scoring six of the team’s points in an 11-4 start to the period that put the Aces ahead, 71-69, with seven minutes remaining. That set up a wild finish that saw Yap and Marqus Blakely making big plays for the Hotshots and Travis doing the same for the Aces on the other end. But it was Manuel making the biggest shot, sinking a jumper to make it 81-77 with 30 seconds remaining.
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