By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup finals series is now tied at 2-2 after the Alaska Aces took Game Four, 90-76, over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Showing grit and determination anew, the Aces were able to keep themselves above the Hotshots in a gruelling and physical encounter to win two straight and pull even in the finals series of the season-ending PBA tournament.
The contest got off to a very competitive start, led by their reinforcements Mike Harris for Alaska and Romeo Travis for Magnolia.
The Hotshots took a 22-19 lead after the first quarter before the Aces sped to create some distance in the second quarter to carry a 42-32 cushion at the break.
Magnolia started the third canto strong, narrowing its deficit down to three points, 49-46, midway into the frame.
Its import Travis, however, had to leave the court around that point to be treated after absorbing a cut on the bridge of his nose.
He eventually returned with a minute to go.
The Aces maintained control of the match, 63-50, heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final canto, the two teams jostled to take early momentum.
It was the Aces though who would set the pace, racing to a 71-54 advantage with 6:59 to go.
Magnolia scrambled to recover lost real estate after that but the deficit proved to be too hard to overcome as Alaska held tight and did not relinquish the lead till the end.
Mr. Harris led the Aces with 34 points and 22 rebounds while Chris Banchero added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Hotshots, meanwhile, was led by Mr. Travis with 29 points and 13 boards with Paul Lee finishing with 14 points.
“I’m glad we won and I think our defense held and we kept them below 80 points,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after their hard-earned victory.
He went on to express his concern and disappointment over the physicality going overboard and said that something has to be done about it.
Game Five of the finals is for Friday.
Meanwhile, prior to the start of Game Four, the two teams split the top individual awards of the conference.
Mr. Harris took home the best import award while Mr. Lee was adjudged best player of the conference.
The double-double machine Harris bested Meralco’s Allen Durham, Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee and Magnolia’s Travis.
The Alaska reinforcement got 1,209 points from the statistical points, media votes and PBA votes.
Runner-up Mr. Travis, for his part, got the player votes and finished with 914 points.
Mr. Lee, meanwhile, got the nod over Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar, Alaska’s Banchero and Northport’s Stanley Pringle.
He received 1,013 points from statistical points, media votes, player votes, and PBA votes, ahead of runner-up Mr. Banchero, who had 753 points.
It was the first best player of the conference award for the veteran Lee.