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Aces trip Kings, set up double playoff Sunday

Willie Miller scored on one gutsy drive forcing one extra play date in the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference classification round.

Miller came through with the decisive basket with 4.7 seconds left as Alaska Milk survived Barangay Ginebra’s searing chase, pulling off 76-75 victory Friday at the Araneta Coliseum that forged deadlocks at second and eighth spots at the close of the regular preliminary round.

A double playoff will be played Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo to resolve final placings in the pre-playoffs.

Ginebra and Rain or Shine fight for the second outright semifinals berth while Alaska and Coca-Cola slug it out for the last slot in the wildcard round knockout pairings.

The Aces squandered a huge 55-34 spread but Miller knocked in a crucial shot saving Alaska from what could have been a bitter defeat.

After Miller made it 76-75 on his big basket, Rosell Ellis put up a defensive gem on David Noel preserving the win that had Alaska finishing the classification round tied with Coca-Cola at eighth with identical 6-8 win-loss records.

The Kings, on the other hand, wound up tied with the Elasto Painters and the Burger King Whoppers at second with the same 8-6 records after suffering their first defeat in their last eight games.

With superior quotients, Ginebra and Rain or Shine are the ones figuring in a playoff for second place. Burger King automatically settled for fourth spot.

“We played really well. We played good defense early on until Ginebra started to hit their shots and got back into the game,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone.

“I hate to say this. It’s a cliché but Ginebra isn’t called a never-say-die team for nothing. They just won’t die. We’re fortunate Willie knocked in that big shot,” Cone added.

Jayjay Helterbrand, Cyrus Baguio and Chico Lanete fueled a blitzkrieg sending Ginebra back in the thick of things after falling behind by as many as 21 in the third period.

The Kings were still down by 20, 48-68, early in the fourth before unleashing a stirring assault to move ahead at 73-72 with 3:51 left to play.

Ginebra held the lead for the last time at 75-74 before the two teams went on a dry spell for nearly two minutes.

After Baguio missed a potential game-clinching jumper, Miller took matters into his hands, attacking the Ginebra defense for what proved to be the deciding basket.

The Kings had a chance to salvage the game but Noel was called for a charging foul on Ellis on their last possession.

The Scores:

Alaska 76 - Miller 17, Ellis 16, De Vance 10, Tenorio 8, De la Cruz 8, Thoss 5, Fonacier 4, Cariaso 4, Hugnatan 2, Ferriols 2, Cablay 0.

Ginebra 75 - Helterbrand 18, Tubid 10, Reavis 10, Mamaril 9, Baguio 9, Noel 7, Intal 5, Lanete 3, Salvacion 2, Menk 2, Artadi 0.

Quarterscores: 15-16, 38-30, 66-48, 76-75.

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