|Simon Enciso does the archer pose after knocking down a triple. Dennis Acosta|
By Ivan Saldajeno
PASIG--Alaska made great use of its second chance and pummeled NLEX, 88-80, to clinch the final quarterfinal seat in the PBA Philippine Cup after the wildcard playoff at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on Friday night.
Seemed to be on their way out before the All-Star Break, the Aces got a shot at redemption when the Magnolia Hotshots denied the Road Warriors outright entry to the next round two nights back.
Alaska then took advantage of it by stifling NLEX in the first half, limiting its opponent to just 25 points, eight in the second quarter, before opening a 19-point halftime lead.
The Aces then stretched their lead to 28 points late in the third period and never looked back from there.
Sonny Thoss put up 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, five rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal for Alaska, which will face Phoenix--and former star player Calvin Abueva--in the quarterfinals.
Top-seeded Phoenix owns a once-to-win advantage over eighth-seeded Alaska due to the incentive for the top two teams after the eliminations.
Simon Enciso and Carl Cruz each chipped in 16 markers.
Kenneth Ighalo made 16 markers of his own with nine boards, one assist, and one steal for NLEX, which blew two chances of making the Final 8 and was knocked out of contention.
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