Semis: SLR 94, Aces 97

On: 18 January 2009

PBA's 34th Season

In a virtual repeat of Game One, Alaska Milk played catch-up basketball most of the first half, seized control in the third period then put on the heat in the final canto.

The Aces repeated with a 94-87 win over the reigning champion Sta. Lucia Realtors to take a two-game-to-nil lead in their KFC PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal duel at the Araneta Coliseum Friday night.

"In the first half, we kind of left our defense at home. We were focused on just beating their press. But we got our defense working in the second half and that was the most telling part," said Alaska coach Tim Cone.

"It's crucial for us to break the pattern of last year's series. We've got a follow-up win and we're now looking to sustain the momentum in the series," Cone added.

The American mentor stressed the series is far from over.

"We still have a job cut out for us. You relax against this team, and they will get you. That's the way they are. They're good at that," said Cone. "We have to stay focused and hopefully reach their level of intensity."

Two-time MVP winner Willie Miller and Joe Devance made 17 point each to lead the balanced Alaska scoring against the Realtors who drew points essentially from only four players.
Dennis Espino, Joseph Yeo, Kelly Williams and Dennis Miranda each scored at least 12 with the rest of the Realtors putting in no more than six.

As in Game One, Miller hit hard when it counted the most, rifling in nine in the payoff quarter, including a perimeter shot, making it 89-82 for the Aces with a little less than two minutes left to play.

Miller and LA Tenorio actually formed a lethal duo in the second half that destroyed the Realtors.

The two combined for 24 points in the second half and accounted for the baskets that broke the Realtors' backs.

Alaska's composure spelled a big difference with the Aces persevering and keeping their patience though trailing practically the entire first half.

After a long chase, the Aces tasted the lead at 63-62 on a baseline jumper by Tony dela Cruz with 4:09 left in the third period.

The Aces went on to close the third at 73-66 and kept the Realtors at bay the rest of the way.

"We're in control but they're definitely far from beaten. They're the defending champion. They're the champion until they're beaten. Hopefully, we’ll be the one to beat them.

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