Aces unleash Baguio and the Beast on Texters to draw level

Stung the last time out, the Alaska Aces made sure this won't go down the wire.

Getting timely buckets from Cyrus Baguio and Calvin Abueva, Alaska steadily coasted to a 100-88 victory over Talk 'N Text Friday night to level their semifinals series at one apiece in the PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena.


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Heady playmaker Jvee Casio tallied all but one of his 22 points in the first three quarters before Baguio and Abueva teamed up in the payoff period to enable the Aces in bouncing back from a painful 65-66 defeat in the series opener last Wednesday.

The 6-foot-2 Baguio clustered 10 of his 18 points in the stretch while Abueva, an undersized power forward at 6-foot-3, came off the bench and collected 20 points, six coming in the fourth, on top of 14 rebounds and a block.

Their clutch baskets, paired with the team's collective suffocating defense, clearly spelled the big difference, a stark contrast in Game 1 where the Tropang Texters dodged the Aces' bullet, courtesy of Ryan Reyes' huge triple in the crunch.

Jarred Dilinger waxed hot all game long with 26 points to lead four other teammates with at least 10 markers but the Tropang Texters, who even enjoyed a 44-30 cushion in the second canto, failed to sustain their charge in the face of the Aces' strong second-half fightback.

Kelly Williams added 13 points and figured in a heated encounter with Alaska center Sonny Thoss in the fourth while Jason Castro was held down to just 12 points in a foul-plagued 23 minutes of play.

Tasked to shadow the much-quicker Abueva, forward Ranidel de Ocampo struggled with just 10 markers and five rebounds before fouling out with 5:37 left in the fourth, enabling Baguio to attack the paint at will.

Also notably absent in the Texters' flow was ace guard Jimmy Alapag, who only had four measly points and six assists while missing 10 of 11 attempts.

“Talk 'N Text was able to impose their will on us on the first half, but in the second half, its more on our tempo,” noted Alaska coach Luigi Trillo. “We went to the different mismatches. We're playing them well because we're playing to our identity.”

“We did a better job on Jason and Jimmy. Ranidel wasn't there so we attacked them early. When Ranidel's not in there, its a different Talk 'N Text team,” he added.

Coming out of the halftime break more determined, the Aces started to get on a roll behind a balanced offensive attack to take a 74-68 cushion into the fourth.

Back-to-back baskets by Dilinger and Williams cut it to 72-74 but the Aces, with Abueva doing most of the damage, dropped an 11-3 counterattack, padding their lead to 85-75 with 7:12 left.

A Castro left-handed lay-up moved TNT within 82-89 but Baguio rose to the challenge, scoring 10 of his team's last 11 points, including an unmolested lay-up off his own offensive board.

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