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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, February 24, 2018
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Alaska seals Top Six spot

Even with a badly depleted lineup, Alaska Milk found a way to check its slide and seal a spot in the Top Six - thanks largely to Jvee Casio and Marion Magat.

Casio came through with a career-first triple-double job while Magat delivered a breakthrough game as the Aces beat out the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 99-95, in a gut-wrenching battle for a sure twice-to-beat incentive in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals last night.

Jeron Teng, Kevin Racal, Vic Manuel, Simon Enciso and Sonny Thoss had their significant contributions as the Aces bucked the absence of Calvin Abueva, Carl Bryan Cruz and Chris Banchero to end their elims stint with seven wins against four losses.

Casio, however, stood out with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a superb triple-double effort highlighted by two key free throws that made it 98-95 with 11.4 ticks left.

The E-Painters had their chance to force overtime but Mark Borboran missed a three-pointer in the dying seconds, and thus ROS got stalled at fifth place at 5-4.

Magat was a tremendous help with a career-high 14 points that went with six rebounds, two assists and one block against two errors in 29 minutes of action.

Maverick Ahanmisi had his own sterling game with 23 points that went with five rebounds, five assists and five steals as he led the ROS mighty stand in a nip-and-tuck game marked by 33 lead changes and nine deadlocks.

"Awesome game. Playoff basketball," said Alaska coach Alex Compton of the tough game where no team enjoyed a lead of over eight points at the Big Dome.

Meanwhile, a 26-point lead could not give San Miguel Beer the desired result against Kia last night, but three clutch plays in the stretch did.

Marcio Lassiter struck for five straight points inside the last 47 seconds, lifting the Beermen to a 108-106 thriller over the Picanto that assured the defending champion's claim to a top two spot.

Arwind Santos and Chris Ross did their part in turning the tide in SMB's favor, resulting in an escape that gave the team a tournament-best overall record of 8-2.

But even coach Leo Austria admitted his team would have suffered a big blow had his crew not kept their poise after blowing an 89-63 third quarter lead and then staring at a 103-106 deficit in the last 62 seconds.

"This could have been a disaster for us going to the playoffs," stated Austria.

"Fortunately, this win gives us one of the two slots. As I told my team, whether it be a 30-point or a one-point win, a win is a win."

The Beermen has Lassiter to thank for bailing them out.

Lassiter's corner triple tied the game up at 106 before turning Santos' defensive gem and Ross' nifty inbound pass from the sideline into an undergoal stab for the game-winner.*pba.com


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