Aces eliminate Bolts, sets up Finals duel with the Hotshots

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Alaska started flat before drawing the spark from its bench then the tremendous lift from import Mike Harris in the crunch as the Aces put to an end Meralco’s mind-boggling run and clinch the second berth in the PBA Governors Cup Finals at the Cuneta Astrodome Saturday night.

Vic Manuel, Jvee Casio, Jake Pascual and Jeron Teng played key roles off the bench while Harris simply imposed himself in the closing minutes as Alaska tripped Meralco, 99-92, to gain the right to play Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the best-of-seven title playoff.

The combatants first get a 17-day breather before opening their title showdown on Dec. 5 at the MOA Arena as the league will give way to Team Philippines’ campaign in the fifth and penultimate window of the FIBA World Cup qualifier.

Both sides welcome the break as both now feel the rigors of the tough playoff grind.

The Aces did show tremendous character, fighting back from an early 14-point deficit and showing steely nerves in the face of the Bolts’ own rally at the finish.

Dashing Meralco’s hopes for a third straight Governors Cup finals, Alaska instead set up a first championship showdown with Magnolia in eight years.

The scores:

Alaska 99 – Harris 27, Casio 14, Racal 10, Teng 10, Manuel 10, Banchero 9, Enciso 7, Thoss 4, Baclao 4, Pascual 4, Exciminiano 0, Potts 0.

Meralco 92 – Durham 31, Hugnatan 13, Newsome 12, Salva 10, Amer 10, Caram 7, Lanete 7, Hodge 2, Faundo 0, Dillinger 0, Canaleta 0, Tolomia 0.

Quarterscores: 21-28, 47-48, 68-60, 99-92.