2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs Roundup: May 10-12, 2013

The 2013 PBA Commish Cup will not have a repeat titlist this year. This much was confirmed after the Alaska Aces booted out their former mentor and his current team in Game 4 last Saturday, while the Bgy. Ginebra Gin Kings completed a stirring comeback from a 1-2 series hole to upend the Talk N Text Tropang Texters last night. So it’s going to be an Alaska-Ginebra showdown for the championship!!! First to three games wins! Gatas o Gin? Kampihan na!

The titular series will pit young coach Luigi Trillo (L)
against veteran tactician Alfrancis Chua (R).

Last Friday, Bgy. Ginebra forced a rubber match after beating Talk N Text, 104-101. After struggling in Game 3, Vernon Macklin redeemed himself well here, dropping 37 points on the overmatched and overworked TNT frontline. V-Mack also collared 12 rebounds and dished out 4 assists as the Gin Kings forced a winner-take-all Game Five.

Hardly any locals showed up for the Texters, as Tony Mitchell was basically a one-man scoring machine. Mitchell, as brilliant as he is scoring 45 points, could not carry TNT straight into the Finals, and coach Norman Black is now left pondering about the critical missed opportunities in this outing. In contrast, Ginebra enjoyed a ton of support from its locals. Jayjay Helterbrand, LA Tenorio, Chris Ellis, and Kerby Raymundo all scored 12 or more points to backstop Macklin's virtuoso performance.

A day after, Alaska defeated San Mig Coffee, 83-78, to enter a PBA Finals series for the first time since Tim Cone bolted for SMC. So many improbable things happened in this game -- from Rob Dozier scoring just 6 points, the Aces roaring back from a double-digit deficit, and Calvin Abueva scoring all but two of his points in the fourth period. Such a well-earned series win by the Aces.

James Yap and Marc Pingris, easily the two most popular SMC Mixers, were both non-existent here. Yap missed the game entirely, while Ping was limited to a paltry 5-point output. The result? Bye bye title defense.

How’s this for irony? à Tim Cone left Alaska when the Aces were struggling. He signed up with SMC and led them to last season's Commish Cup title. He swept the Aces in the elims of the current Commish Cup. And then he gets beaten in four games by his former apprentice with a number of the same players he left behind. In the process, Cone's new team was dethroned by his old team. Fate, you're pretty funny.

Last night, Ginebra completed its big series turnaround by trouncing Talk N Text, 111-103. The Gin Kings utilized a blistering first half to immediately put considerable distance between themselves and TNT. Coach Alfrancis Chua’s wards were all over the hardwood, making plays on both ends of the floor on their way to a 61-41 spread. It turned out that was enough of a cushion to pave the way for a Finals clash with the Aces.

In his three games, TNT import Tony Mitchell has proven he can score in bunches. He, however, can also miss in bunches, and he is also allergic to passing the ball. Not the best combo in the world if you ask me. Not too keen on his coming back to reinforce the Texters next conference.

Vernon Macklin was awesome with his 22-20 line, despite shooting just 6-of-14 from the field. Mac Baracael, too, was extremely impressive with 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 triples. Talk about stepping up big time. But the man of the match was definitely LA Tenorio. The Lieutenant scattered 28 markers despite missing all 7 of his trey attempts. He shot 62% from the 2-point area and made 12-of-14 FTs. Also grabbed 6 boards and had 5 dimes. LA vs Casio in the Finals should be a classic.

Game Recaps:
GINEBRA over TALK N TEXT, 104-101
Vernon Macklin carried Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on his broad shoulders as the Gin Kings stayed alive against Talk ‘N Text, 104-101, in Game Four of the Commissioner’s Cup semifinals Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Macklin scored 37 points, including a basket with 54.4 seconds left that broke the game’s final deadlock, to force a rubber match for a ticket to the championship round.

The import got plenty of support from Ginebra locals, as five other players scored in double figures — Jayjay Helterbrand (17 points), LA Tenorio (16), Chris Ellis (13), and Kerby Raymundo (12).

“This win is for my players,” said Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua. “Wala na akong masabi sa kanila.”

Ginebra built a double-digit lead in the first half, before Talk ‘N Text rallied in the third quarter after Macklin was called for a flagrant foul for shoving Ranidel De Ocampo.

Talk ‘N Text leaned on import Tony Mitchell, who scored 45 points. But the dynamic reinforcement lost steam down the stretch, missing several shots that could have tied the game for the Tropang Texters.

“He’s a very good import. We can’t stop him, but we can contain him,” said Chua, whose Gin Kings forced Mitchell into missing all eight of his three-point attempts apart from eight turnovers.

Mitchell got limited support from the rest of the Tropang Texters, with only Ranidel De Ocampo scoring in double figures for Talk ‘N Text.

The final game of the series is set on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum at 6:15 p.m.

“Eto wala nang pahingahan ‘to,” said Chua.

GIN 104 – Macklin 37, Helterbrand 17, Tenorio 16, Ellis 13, Raymundo 12, Baracael 7, Hatfield 2, Espiritu 0, Urbiztondo 0.
TNT 101 – Mitchell 45, De Ocampo 12, Castro 7, Carey 7, Al-Hussaini 6, Reyes 6, Raymundo 4, Fonacier 4, Ferriols 4, Peek 4, Alvarez 2, Aban 0.
QS: 26-29, 65-55, 81-81, 104-101

The Kings celebrate after winning Game 4.

Jayjay Helterband came up big to force Game 5.

A new champion will emerge at the end of the Commissioner’s Cup.

The Alaska Aces made sure of that on Saturday night, defeating defending champion San Mig Coffee, 83-78, to win their semifinals series at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum in four games.

With the victory, the Aces booked their first championship round appearance since the departure of former coach Tim Cone, who left the team two years ago to coach the Purefoods franchise.

Import Robert Dozier struggled with just six points, but five of those came in the dying minutes to give the Aces the final push to close the match.

“I’m proud of Robert, he’s playing with a sprained ankle,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, who is making his first finals appearance in just his third tournament as a PBA coach.

Dozier was one of many heroes for Alaska, which also includes Calvin Abueva. The brash rookie forward struggled in the first half, but scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to help the Aces come back from a 14-point halftime deficit.

“When Calvin gets going, he really gets going,” said Trillo.

San Mig Coffee came out firing, unleashing a 19-0 run in the second quarter to lead 48-34 at the half. But the Mixers, who were playing without top gun James Yap, did not seem to have enough firepower in the second half to keep up with Alaska.

“James, he could’ve helped them,” said Trillo. “They lacked one more weapon inside.”

Alaska will play the winner of Sunday’s Game Five between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in a best-of-five finals series set to tip off on Wednesday.

“I think both teams are tired also,” said Trillo, who refused to disclose a preference for either opponent. “Hard to say. I’m not gonna wish for anything.”

ALA 83 – Baguio 16, Casio 15, Abueva 14, Thoss 9, Dela Cruz 9, Espinas 7, Dozier 6, Hontiveros 5, Jazul 2, Belasco 0.
SMC 78 – Bowles 23, Devance 18, Barroca 14, Simon 10, Pingris 5, Mallari 3, Reavis 3, Najorda 2, Gonzales 0, De Ocampo 0.
QS: 25-24, 34-48, 60-64, 83-78

The SMC bench looks on in vain.

Calvin Abueva is all smiles after eliminating
Marc Pingris and the Mixers.

GINEBRA over TALK N TEXT, 111-103
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel unleashed a blistering attack early before showing poise in the face of a furious Talk ‘N Text rally to win Game Five of their Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series, 111-103, Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

With the win, Ginebra booked its first finals appearance since the 2011 edition of the tournament.

“I didn’t expect that we’ll be in the championship,” said Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua, who rebounded from an 0-4 start to the tournament to make a Cinderella run to the finals as a seventh seed. They will face top-ranked Alaska in the championship round.

“It’s a God-given gift, daming injuries, pero nakarating kami dito.”

Buoyed by a boisterous crowd of 21,408 cheering lustily for them from the opening tip, the Gin Kings built a 20-point halftime lead, 61-41, against the shorthanded Tropang Texters.

But Talk ‘N Text, which was playing without star forward Ranidel De Ocampo in addition to injured stalwarts Kelly Williams and Jared Dillinger, did not give up. The Tropang Texters cut the lead to just 11 points at the end of the third period, and came within striking distance in the final quarter.

“Tinitingnan ko, kinakabahan ako,” said Chua. “Pero yung mga players, wala lang.”

LA Tenorio led Ginebra with 28 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to keep Talk ‘N Text at bay.

“The kid showed something that, pwede talaga siyang mag-[Best Player of the Conference,” said Chua.

Import Vernon Macklin, whose arrival in the tournament turned Ginebra’s fortunes around, added 22 points and 20 rebounds, while Mac Baracael had 21 points.

Against Alaska in the finals, Chua knows the going will get even tougher.

“Alaska is very complete, from wing to point to big man,” said Chua, who added that he won’t be thinking of the championship round just yet.

“Enjoy-in ko muna ‘to kahit isang araw.”

GIN 111 – Tenorio 28, Macklin 22, Baracael 21, Helterbrand 15, Raymundo 13, Hatfield 6, Urbiztondo 3, Caguioa 2, Ellis 1, Mamaril 0.
TNT 103 – Mitchell 42, Castro 15, Peek 11, Reyes 10, Ferriols 9, Aban 8, Fonacier 3, Al-Hussaini 2, Carey 2, Raymundo 1, Gamalinda 0, Alvarez 0, Alapag 0.
QS: 27-18, 61-41, 78-69, 111-103

LA Tenorio blows by Jayson Castro in Game 5.

Tony Mitchell was a one-man show for TNT.

Vernon Macklin flies high as the Kings
advance to the title series.

Source: Unless otherwise specified, game recaps were compressed and compiled from InterAKTV. (Writing credit to Rey Joble)

Images: Images are from InterAKTV and the PBA. (Photo credit to Paolo Papa, Paul Ryan Tan, and Pranz Kaeno Billones) 
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