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Penny, Taulava-led Tigers relegate Aces to wildcard pairing against twice-to-beat Burger King

ANTIPOLO CITY. -- Coca-Cola head coach Kenneth Duremdes isn’t sure if his team will make it to the quarterfinals. But he’s certainly glad to know they have a fair chance of advancing there.

James Penny and Asi Taulava came away with double-double efforts, propelling the Tigers to an 81-74 playoff victory over the Alaska Aces Sunday at the Ynares Center.

“This is a big win for us,” said Duremdes of the Tigers’ third game in five days. “The players are exhausted but their determination carried us.”

Penny collected 29 points that went with his 16 rebounds while Taulava added 18 points and as many rebounds to show the way for the Tigers, who clinched the No. 8 seed.

That means the Tigers will face the No. 5 Sta. Lucia Realtors in a knockout game in the wildcard phase on Friday for a place in the best-of-3 quarterfinals.

In contrast, the Alaska Aces, who were relegated to No. 9, will need two wins against the No.4 Burger King Whoppers to advance to the quarterfinals.

The same goes to No. 10 seed Barako Bull which will play the No. 3 seed that will go to the loser of the Barangay Ginebra and Rain or Shine playoff for No. 2 which was still being played as of presstime.

Duremdes admitted it will be tough going against the Realtors but he emphasized their success will defend on how they will defend.

“(Sta. Lucia) has a lot of talented role players. Like Alaska they also love to run so our defense will play a key role in our matchup,” said Duremdes, whose Tigers squad defeated the Realtors 88-79 in their lone classification round meeting last May 6.

RJ Rizada scored a career-high 11 points and Alex Cabagnot dished off seven assists for the Tigers, who repeated over the Aces.

Alaska led 20-18 after the opening quarter before Penny poured in 12 of his points in the second quarter as the Tigers outscored the Aces, 21-10 for a 39-30 lead at halftime.

Coca-Cola shot just 32 percent only because they had more attempts (29-of-90). Alaska went 34-of-85 from the field to shoot 40 percent.

But the Tigers shot better from the free throw line (18-of-22) as compared to Alaska’s 3-of-11.

Coke also outrebounded Alaska, 64-48.

Willie Miller led the Aces with 17 points while Tony dela Cruz and import Rosell Ellis added 16 and 13 respectively for Alaska, which lost by 18 to the Whoppers in their only meeting in the classification phase. (DBC)

The scores:

Coke 81 - Penny 29, Taulava 18, Rizada 11, Buenafe 7, Belasco 6, Telan 5, Macapagal 3, Cabagnot 2, Dimaunahan 0, Singson 0, Misolas 0.

Alaska 74 - Miller 17, Dela Cruz 16, Ellis 13, De Vance 10, Thoss 7, Tenorio 6, Hugnatan 4, Borboran 1, Fonacier 0, Ferriols 0, Cablay 0, Cariaso 0.

Quarterscores: 18-20, 39-30, 61-51, 81-74.

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