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Monday, May 27, 2013

Three Quarters

12:01:15 AM | 5/26/2013 | Monday

This is how the Alaska Aces won the championship of the Philippine Basketball Association’s second conference of its 38th season, more known as the Commissioner’s Cup: They started the game strong, and finished the game strong. And I am not talking about those dazzling crossovers that starts the run of a basketball highlighted reel, and emphatic slam dunks that are more known to the sports commentators as “finishes strong,” huh?

Three games are quite enough to win it all, but believe me – three quarters in that same number of contests really dictated the series’ tempo, all in the favor of the Uytengsu franchise.

Take a look on this. At the end of the first quarter of the first game of their big dance, it was already a whooping 28-6 in the scoreboard. Ginebra trailed big time. And they almost managed to comeback from that huge 30-point deficit at one moment, only to run out of gas and Alaska halted their rally; thus, resulting into an 87-70 victory.

But what’s with the 28-6 score? I’ll call it as the “first hurrah” by the Aces. It showed two sides: a great offense on one end, and a much greater defense at the other. You saw how hard they trap the passing lanes and even the shots in the air, make GSM commit turnovers, missed shots from long distance to point-blank; while on the other end, Alaska’s offensive plays screwed Ginebra’s defense. One slashes through and sees the opening inside, and the next few seconds around, there he is, just nailed the shot. Their three pointers ain’t sickening the crowd favorites, but their defense does.

Moving on to Game 2; Calvin Abueva did not played much of the first chapter, but at one point when he entered the second quarter that turned up the tide again in favor of Alaska. Thus, making another huge run in the second half then, and emerged victorious in a 104-90, taking a step closer to the trophy. And take note, the Mall of Asia Arena seemed like the Aces’ home court as they remained undefeated, about a year since the venue’s opening. Adding insult to injury is Coach Alfrancis Chua’s middle finger, which the league prompted him to fine as much as ten thousand pesos.

Ginebra was actually leading during the earlygoing part of the game, only to suffered another series of bumps in the second as Alaska wrestled back to get the lead. With Calvin Abueva making plays even if he falls and crashes to the floor a la Candy Crush. And whatever that frustrated the Aces at first quarter; they left it behind their backs. They got their focus back to the game.

Third game of the best-of-five series; supposedly, it’s a do-or-die game for Ginebra, and Alaska’s seal-the-deal move. It appeared that Ginebra was on its never-say-die spirit as they hold on to their lead after three quarters (which apparently was trimmed compared to their margin at halftime). Alaska, though had a different plan to steal another game, and for the last time. Trailed by only a point, and after narrowing the gap from as many as points, they just scored a 25-point turnaround, throwing the huge dagger on Ginebra San Miguel on a 104-80 win.

Big shots came up; they took advantage of another GSM’s drought. Everything’s like a déjà vu of that Game 1, 1st quarter scenario. Ginebra’s offense was almost closed to a total shutdown by Aces’ stifling defense. While the latter broke the game open and pulled away big time on their offensive possessions. Plus, Vernon Macklin’s injury hurt Ginebra’s hopes and their never-say-die spirit. Ouch.

I repeat. Three games may be quite enough for the Aces to brag their right to win that commissioner’s cup trophy. But out of it (let’s say 12 quarters in total), 3 of them was not just destined, but dictated everything in favor of their Gatas Republic. They had done a great job of taking their opponent’s sixth man out of the game (which is by the way, more known as the “crowd”), and prove them all wrong, including their head coach Luigi Trillo’s lack of adequate experience in big games like that.

Congrats to them, and props to Ginebra for bringing up a good fight. I’m pretty sure that they will totally bounce back on the next tourney. I just hope to see Mark Caguioa as he is though.

Author: slickmaster | © 2012 september twenty-eight productions

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