Semis: SLR 70, Aces 92

On: 15 January 2009

PBA's 34th Season

The Alaska Aces underscored their distinction as the league's top defensive team, holding the Sta. Lucia Realtors to 3-of-24 shooting in the fourth quarter for a 92-70 victory Wednesday (14 January 2009) night in the opener of the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Araneta Coliseum.

Joe Devance scored 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter and Willie Miller poured all but two of his 14 markers in the second half as the Aces picked up their rhythm after a struggling start.

A 12-2 run in a span of 3:30 minutes turned out to be the knockout punch for the Aces, who broke 69-69 count en route to the breakaway win.

"We didn't play well in the first half," offered Alaska coach Tim Cone, who took note of their 16 turnovers in that stretch.

"But our defense kept us in the game," he said.

Although Miller struggled offensively (5-of-18), Cone said the two-time MVP played spectacular in the second half, dishing off four assists to start the fourth that "start our rhythm."

Miller, who saw action for 34 minutes, also grabbed 10 rebounds, and finished with eight asists to offset his six turnovers.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is set Friday also at the Araneta Coliseum.

"We have a long memory. We also took Game 1 last year then lost the next two games," said Cone referring to their semifinal showdown with the Realtors in this same conference last season. "Our goal is to follow up this victory."

Kelly Williams, still recovering from flu and severe migraine which landed him at the hospital Monday night, led all scorers with 18 points and Joseph Yeo added 14 for the defending champions, who faltered in the fourth quarter due to poor shooting.

Norman Gonzales (6 points) opened the fourth with a layup then knocked a 3-pointer as Sta. Lucia tied the count at 69-69 with still 10:27 to play.

But things turned to worse for the defending champions after that as the Realtors went 1-of-21 from the field the rest of the way while watching the Aces rip the game wide open.

Sta. Lucia actually missed its last 15 attempts from the field, including a 0-for-11 stint from beyond the three-point arc and had four turnovers in that endgame meltdown.

"We're just kind of lucky they (Realtors) missed the big three-point shots," Cone said.

Sta. Lucia went 1-of-13 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter and 7-for-29 for the game.

Overall, the Realtors shot a woeful 35 percent from the field (28-of-78).

The Realtors looked good in the early goings, leading by 10 points 29-19, five minutes into the second quarter and closed the first half at 41-38 by cashing in on Alaska's 16 turnovers.

Sta. Lucia's hot start was sparked by its backcourt with Yeo scoring nine points and Ryan Reyes adding eight.

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