|RK Ilagan won it for the Aces at the buzzer. PBA Images|
MANILA--Alaska was on the verge of a major fourth-quarter collapse on Saturday night against Meralco.
But RK Ilagan came to the rescue just in time.
The rookie guard shone brightly for the Aces in the endgame as he hit a buzzer-beating jumper that gave them a 94-93 win over the Bolts in their PBA Governors' Cup showdown at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Alaska lost a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter as Meralco opened the fourth on a 20-2 run to take an 89-83 lead with less than four minutes left.
Making matters worse, the Aces were playing all-Filipino the rest of the way after Olu Ashaolu was thrown out of the game after a flagrant foul on Cliff Hodge.
But after a timeout, Ilagan scored back-to-back baskets that cut the lead down to just two, 89-87, with less than three minutes to play.
Tony Bishop appeared to have restored order for the Bolts with a jumper with 1:42 left for a 91-87 cushion, but Jeron Teng responded with a three-point play that trimmed the gap to just one, 91-90, with 1:03 remaining.
Chris Banchero converted a one-dribble pull-up jumper to up Meralco's lead, but Abu Tratter responded with his own mid-range shot that gave Alaska a crucial 2-for-1 situation with 34 seconds left.
Banchero tried to ice the match for the Bolts, but he misfired on his shot, giving the Aces 4.7 seconds to steal the win.
Ilagan took flight in the end as his isolation pull-up jumper went in just as the clock read zeros.
Ashaolu and Mike Digregorio each scored 21 points for Alaska, which moved up to fourth place at 6-3.
Ilagan's game-winner capped a career game in which he tallied 11 points in total alongside three rebounds and one assist.
Allein Maliksi fired 32 points, one shy of his career-high, with two rebounds and one steal for Meralco, but he was dearly missed in the end as he fouled out with 7:31 left.
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