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Alaska wins squeaker over ROS, clinches top two spot

By Patrick Sutare

PASAY—Alaska turned to their patented suffocating defense in the clutch to shut down Rain or Shine late, 94-89, Wednesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome, marking the end of the PBA Philippine Cup elimination phase.

With both squads treating the face-off as a must win respectively, a total slugfest from start to finish did not obviously come as a surprise.

After the Elasto Painters looked poised for a break away early in the first with an 11-2 advantage, the Aces responded with their own run courtesy of three early trifectas from Jayvee Casio to tie the game at 13.

The nip-and-tuck battle then lasted for good.

ROS held on the lead through three quarters, 71-66.

Reaching the crucial moments of the payoff period, both teams traded spurts of their own.

After RJ Jazul tied the knot at 79 with about eight minutes remaining, ROS went on a 7-0 run to create a cushion going down the stretch, 86-79.

At the 5:38 mark, the Aces suffered a huge blow after Calvin Abueva was slapped for his sixth foul of the game.

But it seemed to work the other way as the fiasco appeared to lit the fire out of the team known as the "Never Quit Squad".

The Aces countered the run with an 8-0 surge to snatch the lead, 87-86, with 3:47 left.

After the game was tied at 89 approaching the last two minutes following a triple from Jeff Chan and an inside bucket from Casio, Alaska held ROS scoreless till the final 30 seconds and would then seal the win.

Casio topscored the game with 25 points on top of five rebounds. Vic Manuel and Sonny Thoss backed him up with 13 apiece.

The Aces now secured a date with seventh seed Barangay Ginebra with them holding a twice-to-beat advantage after grabbing the second spot.

ROS, on the other hand, falls on the brink of elimination after failing to break out of slump. They are set to face Blackwater in a playoff for the eight and last playoff spot of the conference.

Follow him on Twitter: @patricksutare