Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aces had little trouble disposing off the B-Meg Llamados 105-86 Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum

ALASKA drew another career game from Jason Forte and thus had its Finals quest in the PBA Governors Cup alive and still very much kicking.

With Forte anchoring a sterling all-around game on a conference-high 42 points, the Aces had little trouble disposing off the B-Meg Llamados 105-86 Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The win was Alaska’s second in four semifinal round games and seventh in 12 overall, putting it at third-running spot behind 8-3 Talk ‘N Text and 7-4 Barangay Ginebra, which were set to duel later in the evening.

If the Aces win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday and the Kings lose both to the Tropang Texters and Elasto Painters at semis end on Friday, then the Uytengsu-owned franchise goes on to the best-of-seven championship series.

That is a lot of ifs for Alaska coach Tim Cone’s liking, making him hark back to a 77-81 loss to Barangay Ginebra last Friday.

“The thing we were talking about before the Ginebra game was that we control our own destiny,” related Cone. “The opportunity was there and we weren’t ready to seize that.

“Now we can only control the things we can control, which is coming out, do battle and let the cards fall where they may. But we are ready to seize the opportunity. We’ll just be hanging around, see where it all ends up. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Cone’s charges, led by the seemingly indefatigable Forte, are sure keeping that spark of hope alive.

Forte, who posted his previous PBA career-best of 36 points in an 88-81 win over Petron Blaze last Sunday, laced his latest milestone with a game-high 17 rebounds and six assists.

Local support was aplenty, with Sonny Thoss, Tony dela Cruz and LA Tenorio chipping in at least 10 points each. Tenorio also had eight assists.

Dela Cruz’s fellow relievers, Mark Borboran and Bonbon Custodio, also turned in significant contributions to help make up for the continued absence of Cyrus Baguio and, most recently, Wesley Gonzales, who suffered a right knee injury in the Ginebra game.

“Those are two starters taken out of our lineup, but we’d continue to do battle,” noted Cone.

James Yap’s 25 points and PJ Simon’s 18 led B-Meg, which dropped to 1-3 in the semis and 5-7 in all.

The Llamados came into the game just aiming to salvage some pride but failed even in that after first failing to contain Forte and then the likes of Thoss, Borboran and Tenorio in the stretch.

Yap was responsible for leading B-Meg back from a 41-54 deficit to within 64-68, after scoring nine points capped by a buzzer-beating triple, in the last 2:19 of the third period.

Things almost turned bleak for Alaska after Jayr Reyes got ejected for a flagrant foul-penalty 2 on Jerwin Gaco with 21 seconds left in the quarter. The 6-7 forward-center delivered a blow on the back of Gaco’s hand following a rebound battle.

Thoss then simply took the lead, scoring the first four points of the fourth before the likes of Borboran, Tenorio and Forte took over for the runaway win.

Forte already had his 12th double-double at the half with 18 points and 11 rebounds, helping Alaska battle from an early nine-point deficit and into a 37-35 lead at the break.

The muscular 6-5 native built his first-round production around seven offensive rebounds.

Alaska actually already had 14 offensive boards in the first 24 minutes of play, equaling B-Meg’s total, and had a 13-rebound advantage that offset the Aces’ 17-of-43 field shooting. (NC)

The scores:

ALASKA 105 – Forte 42, Thoss 17, Dela Cruz 15, Tenorio 10, Borboran 9, Custodio 7, Thiele 3, Reyes 2, Dimaunahan 0, Cablay 0.

B-MEG 86 – Yap J. 25, Simon 18, Urbiztondo 9, Devance 7, Pingris 6, Reavis 6, Allen 5, Gaco 4, Allado 4, Fernandez 2, Adducul 0


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