Alaska knocks out Meralco to make it back to the Finals

Alaska Aces 99 – Meralco Bolts 92 (Alaska wins 3-1)

After two years, the Alaska Aces have finally made it back to a Finals series in the PBA. The locals stepped up in Game 4 to support their import Mike Harris. With a balanced attack, the Aces had enough ammo to put away the Meralco Bolts and eliminate last year’s finalists.

The Aces used a second-half surge and two runs in the fourth quarter to finally pull away from the Bolts. The two teams were tied early in the game when Reynel Hugnatan, Baser Amer and Allen Durham found their range. They went on a 12-4 run midway through the first period built on three outside buckets. Meralco took an eight-point lead and held on to their advantage for most of the first half.

The game turned to Alaska’s favor in the second half. It was a back-and-forth affair for both teams early in the third period, leading to a tied count midway through the quarter. That was when Alaska pushed ahead with a 10-0 run. Jvee Casio, Jeron Teng and Vic Manuel all found buckets inside to push Alaska to an eight-point lead heading to the final period.

Merlaco fought back in the fourth quarter. They got a spark from their bench as Anjo Caram’s energy allowed them to tie the game at 73 with a little over six minutes left in the game. With the game on the line, Harris once again went into take over mode.

He sparked and finished an 11-2 Alaska run to restore order. He got the run started with a big three-pointer and sandwiched free throws with another big triple. Alaska took a nine-point lead with 4:30 left in the game.

Meralco tried to make one last push to get back in the game. Durham scored four straight points in the final two minutes of the game to cut the deficit down to just three points. But Harris, Simon Enciso and Kevin Racal all nailed clutch free throws for a 6-0 reply to push the lead back up to nine. That cushion was enough to hold off the Bolts all the way to the end.

Harris led the Aces with 27 points and 14 rebounds, continuing his solid run in the Playoffs. Casio came off the bench to support Harris with 14 points on two treys. Racal, Teng and Manuel all scored in double figures, combining for 30 points.