Alaska Nips TNT, Ties Series

It's back to square one for Alaska and defending champion Talk 'N Text.

The Aces avenged a previous defeat by beating the Tropang Texters, 104-99, last night in Game 4 of their best-of-seven semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.

Alaska nearly squandered a 13-point advantage (87-74) when Talk 'N Text sprang back to life, but the Aces stood its ground down the stretch with clutch shooting from Cyrus Baguio, JVee Casio and rookie Calvin Abueva to tie the series at 2-2.

The Aces took an 87-74 lead on a basket by Baguio with 9:30 left to play, but the Tropang Texters recovered and a three-pointer by former MVP Jimmy Alapag trimmed the deficit to 92-94 with 2:17 to play in the fourth.

TNT had a chance to tie the score but Ranidel de Ocampo committed an offensive foul - his sixth and last - on Abueva. After Abueva and Jayson Castro exchanged lay-ups, Baguio buried a booming triple to make it 99-94, 1:15 to play.

Casio, who made four of Alaska's six foul shots to seal the win for the Aces, led the team in scoring with 22 points while Baguio and Abueva, who were both ejected late in Game 3, contributed 18 and 15 points respectively.

Game 5 is set Sunday at 6 p.m. at the same venue.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine hopes to deliver the knockout punch right in Game 5 of their semis series as it seeks a back-to-back trip to the finals against San Mig Coffee tonight also at the MOA.

In the Governors' Cup last conference, the ROS Painters were up 3-1 before the Mixers - playing under the banner of B-Meg then - rallied to force a winner-take-all.

Despite losing Games 5 and 6, the Painters went on to win the deciding Game 7 for their breakthrough championship.

ROS coach Yeng Guiao hopes they would not suffer the same ordeal this time.

"Now we have three chances to get to the finals, but our plan is to finish it off on Saturday," said Guiao moments after Rain or Shine won Game 4, 83-74, late Thursday.

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