AFTER splitting the first four games of the PBA Governors’ Cup title series, Magnolia Pambansang Manok and Alaska Milk are ready to bring the action to the next level -- a best-of-three showdown.
The Hotshots, who swept the first two games, and the Aces, who took the next two matches, return to the floor today for an all-important Game 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The winner in today’s 7 p.m. encounter will move one win closer to the coveted title, while sending the loser to the brink in this season-ending conference.
Despite winning 90-76 in Game 4 last Sunday to send the series back to where it started, Alaska coach Alex Compton lamented the highly-physical nature of the series.
“Somebody punched Mike (Harris) in the testicles and somebody hit Chris Banchero on the male part. Those are literally low blows and I’m not happy one bit,” said Compton.
“At what point will the refs make the calls. I hope it would in the next game and we could start playing basketball,” added Compton.
However, Harris, who was voted as “Best Import” of the conference, did not let the physicality affect his game.
Harris, the sixth player in franchise history to win the award, struck for 34 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Aces’ decisive breakaway against the Hotshots.
Banchero added 17 points on top of six rebounds and five assists for the Aces, who led by as many as 17 points, 71-54, midway in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Interestingly, it was Magnolia import Romeo Travis, who sustained a cut on a wayward elbow by Harris.
Despite the cut, Travis still finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Hotshots.
The rest of the Hotshots, however, failed to deliver.
Best Player of the Conference winner Paul Lee struggled from the field with only 4-of-12 shooting clip to end up with 14 points.
He also had eight rebounds and two assists in the losing effort.