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Alaska nails last playoff spot with six-point win against Ginebra

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Entering Wednesday night, winning wasn't everything for Alaska as it still needed a six-point margin to barge to the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals.

However, all hopes may have been lost for the Aces as the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel melted a 13-point deficit and were just down four with 6.4 seconds left.

Damion James saved the day.

James hit the "game-winning" buzzer-beater as Alaska met the needed winning margin with a 104-98 win against Ginebra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

James found himself free after the Gin Kings put up a pressure defense on the Aces and received the pass before scoring on a layup as time expired to put them to the playoffs as the sixth seeds.

James led Alaska with 29 points, while Cyrus Baguio added 17.

Mike Dunigan finished with a game-high 32 markers, while Mac Baracael tallied 18 for Ginebra.

Alaska will now face third-seeded Purefoods in the best-of-three quarterfinals, which will begin on Friday.

On the other hand, the loss dropped Ginebra to eighth place, putting the club on a tough position as it will face Rain Or Shine in another quarterfinal series. Rain Or Shine, which finished first after the eliminations, holds a twice-to-beat advantage equivalent to a 1-0 lead in a race-to-two showdown.

Box Scores:

Alaska 104 - James 29, Baguio 17, Abueva 16, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 9, Casio 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 4, Manuel 2, Menk 2, Baclao 2, Eman 0, Dela Cruz 0

Ginebra 98 - Dunigan 32, Baracael 18, Aguilar 17, Tenorio 10, Urbiztondo 8, Slaughter 7, Caguioa 4, Monfort 2, Pena 0, Helterbrand 0, Ababou 0, Ellis 0

Quarterscores: 29-23, 52-39, 78-69, 104-98