ALASKA’s hard work of late gave it a relatively easy passage to the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals.
Frank House set the tone and the rest of the Aces followed suit as they manhandled the NLEX Road Warriors 106-90 last night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo to make it as the seventh-seeded team in the next round.
House scored a personal PBA career-best 24 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists while five local teammates chipped in at least 10 points as Alaska blitzed its way to its fourth straight win ending the eliminations while completing the last eight cast.
Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso marveled at the way his charges played their hearts out in a game they wanted so badly to win, saying: “I can see by the way we were engaged, the way we were focused, it was as if playoff time na kami. I want to give credit to… everyone.
Every day in practice challenging themselves, each other, practicing at a high level and then showcasing it in the game.”
With a 5-6 slate overall, the Aces actually tied NorthPort but gained the upper hand due to the winner-over-the-other rule.
The top four have a twice-to-beat advantage over their lower-ranked opponents in the next round, but getting this far despite a 0-5 start pleased Cariaso no end.
Alaska was better off than Columbian, which was hoping the former loses for them to tie at 4-7 and figure in a playoff game for the last quarterfinals berth.
Instead, the Dyip joined Rain or Shine, Phoenix Pulse and Blackwater in looking forward to the next season.
Alaska now gets to meet second-ranked Meralco in the quarterfinals that start Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Making the Aces’ latest win more impressive was the fact it was fashioned minus Jeron Teng, the team’s top local scorer who has to sit out the next two weeks due to a hyper-extended right knee.
The loss, its second straight and third against eight wins, hardly mattered for NLEX as it still held on to the top ranking going to the next round.
The Road Warriors sorely need to fine-tune their game going to their match against the Batang Pier or else see their win-once advantage go for naught.
Manny Harris scattered 22 points to lead NLEX, which also drew 19 points from Poy Erram, 17 from JR Quinahan and 15 from Kiefer Ravena.
But the Road Warriors’ porous defense added to their scrambling offense in the face of their opponents’ pressure, causing the former to trail by as much as 39-61.