Chris Banchero delivered the clutch hits to send the game into overtime and then Vic Manuel and Jeron Teng finished off the job as Alaska survived a stubborn Meralco side to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup via 108-103 victory, Friday night at the MOA Arena.
With the Aces down by 4, 91-95, after Chris Newsome cashed in on two freebies with only 20 ticks left on the game clock, Banchero drained a triple off a second attempt to cut the deficit to a solitary point. Newsome split his free throws in the next possession to give the Bolts a 2-point lead with time down to 6 seconds. Banchero then buried a turnaround jumper over the outstretched arms of Cliff Hodge to force the extra period.
After Hodge gave the Bolts a 2-point edge, 102-100, with 2:45 left in overtime, Manuel racked up 4 straight points to give the Aces the advantage. A split from the stripe by Meralco import Delroy James was followed by a Teng putback which pegged the score at 106-103 for the Aces.
A relieved Alaska head coach Alex Compton admitted during the post-game interview that the feeling was similar to having won a championship match.
“Honestly, after that game, the heart the guys showed, Meralco played great, and the plays that they made, it does feel like a championship win,” said Compton.
“It’s not. I understand that, but just the emotion, struggle through five games, and the things we are trying to work through, just a nice feeling,” he added.
Manuel paced the Aces with 23 points while Diamon Simpon added 20 points and 23 boards. Banchero finished with 15 markers and 9 assists.
James led Meralco’s losing cause with 34 points while Chris Newsome and Raymond Almazan contributed 20 and 15 points, respectively.
Alaska 108 – Manuel 23, Simpson 20, Banchero 15, Casio 14, Enciso 13, Teng 12, Thoss 5, Racal 2, Pascual 2, Baclao 2.
Meralco 103 – James 34, Newsome 20, Almazan 14, Amer 8, Quinto 7, Pinto 6, Hodge 4, Faundo 4, De Ocampo 3, Jackson 3, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 26-28, 55-43, 68-66, 96-96, 108-103.