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Alaska rallies in fourth to steal Finals Game 1 from Fajardo-less SMB

Yancy De Ocampo and Eric Menk get rare starts in Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals. PBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Just when everyone thought Junemar Fajardo-less San Miguel will open the PBA Philippine Cup Finals with a win, Alaska delivered the final wave.

The Aces dominated the fourth quarter and made the Beermen feel Fajardo's absence with a 100-91 Gamre 1 victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

Fajardo, who hurt his knee in Game 6 of San Miguel's semifinal clash with Rain Or Shine on Friday night, was declared clear to play for the best-of-seven championship series on Saturday by team manager Gee Abanilla, but the club opted to sit him out for the finals opener and probably for the entire series as well.

Still, the Beermen, despite its other star Arwind Santos struggling, appeared to be heading to the 1-0 lead by taking a 78-66 cushion early in the fourth quarter.

But the Aces outscored the Beermen, 22-8, in an 8:14 span of the final frame to take the lead, 88-86, with 2:53 left in the game.

Yancy De Ocampo, who started for San Miguel with Fajardo out, scored on a turnaround jumper to tie the game, 88-all, but Chris Banchero answered with a three-point play to give Alaska the lead again, 91-88, with 2:16 to go.

Alex Cabagnot equalized one last time with a three-pointer with 1:57 remaining, but Alaska finished the game with nine unanswered points to complete a 34-16 fourth quarter domination.

Vic Manuel led the Aces with 24 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one block off the bench, while Cyrus Baguio contributed 16 points and four rebounds also off the bench.

Alaska's second stringers actually carried the fight as its bench players outscored those of San Miguel, 75-17. No Alaska starter scored in double figures.

Cabagnot tallied 20 markers, two rebounds, and four dimes for the Beermen, while De Ocampo had a conference-high 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Box Scores:

Alaska 100-Manuel 24, Baguio 16, Banchero 15, Abueva 12, Exciminiano 6, Jazul 6, Casio 5, Hontiveros 5, Menk 5, Thoss 4, Baclao 2, Dela Rosa 0

San Miguel 91-Cabagnot 20, Lassiter 19, De Ocampo 18, Tubid 13, Espinas 11, Arana 4, Santos 4, Ross 2, Lutz 0, Semerad 0

Quarterscores: 23-23, 42-38, 66-75, 100-91

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