Derby Ace, Alaska finalize semis cast

By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Imports Diamon Simpson and Tony Washam delivered Sunday night as Alaska and Derby Ace prevailed in memorable Game 5s to complete the Final Four cast in the PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Alaska Aces nipped the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, 93-91, after Simpson laid in the go-ahead basket with five seconds left while the Llamados downed the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in overtime, 105-100, behind a 49-point job by Washam.

Simpson made up for two crucial errors as the Gin Kings wiped out a four-point Alaska lead in a three-second span that had the pro-Ginebra crowd of more than 21,000 up on its feet.
In winning what coach Tim Cone said was a “most even (playoff) series,” the Aces sealed a best-of-seven semifinal series with elimination-round topnotcher Talk ‘N Text starting Wednesday, also at the Big Dome in Cubao.

“You can’t find a series this tight,” Cone later said. “It’s tough that someone has to lose this game and this series. My heart goes out to them (Gin Kings). I don’t think you could have a more even series.”
Washam displayed his wide offensive arsenal by scoring in twin digits in each of the four quarters of regulation before brandishing the other facets of his game in extra time.
“He came to us at the right place at the right time,” Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio said. “This is just his third day in the country and what we saw out there tonight was just the tip of the iceberg, as far as his talents are concerned.

We had a new lease on life with Tony coming over,” added Gregorio.

Derby Ace, which remains on course to sweeping both PBA jewels staked for the year, next clashes with a well-rested San Miguel Beer crew in the other best-of-seven semifinal series this Wednesday.

Simpson finished with 24 points and 22 rebounds, but he almost played goat when he accidentally tapped in a Jay-Jay Helterbrand miss that shoved Ginebra within 88-90 with 31.8 seconds left.
Simpson later threw a careless inbounds pass that was intercepted at midcourt by Eric Menk, who found Helterbrand for a triple that ushered the Kings to a 91-90 lead, time down to 28.5 seconds.
“Yeah, it happens,” Cone said of Simpson’s “own goal” that actually gave the Kings the chance to steal the game after trailing, 84-90, with 2:14 left on an LA Tenorio triple.
Tenorio led the Aces with 25 points and five assists, while Willie Miller scattered 19 points and Menk chipped in 15 for the Kings.

When Washam couldn’t finish off the Elasto Painters offensively in overtime, he turned to playing defense and let his teammates do the scoring.

James Yap made all six free throws in that stretch to help put Rain or Shine away.

Regulation ended at 90-all after Sol Mercado made one of two free throws off Niño Canaleta with 37.7 seconds left, then missed a long jumper at the buzzer.

Rafi Reavis put the Llamados on the board first in the extension after getting a nice assist from Washam, who earlier foiled a Mercado layup on the other end.

After Roger Yap scored on a drive, Washam picked up a charging foul on Ryan Araña, resulting in the first pair of James Yap free throws that made it 96-90, with barely two minutes gone in overtime.
And that proved enough buffer for the Llamados, who were threatened last at 100-102 on two Gabriel Norwood free throws, before Yap put the game to bed with two more charities in the final 10.1 ticks off a duty foul by Araña.

It was a perfect ending to a well-fought series, and Gregorio heaped praises on his conquered foes for a job well done.

The scores:
First Game
DERBY ACE 105—Washam 49, Maierhofer 17, Yap R. 14, Yap J. 13, Reavis 8, Canaleta 3, Aratadi 1, Simon 0, Pingris 0, Allado 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 100—Norwood 25, Mercado 23, Nealy 12, Laure 12, Cruz 8, Arellano 6, Arana 5, Chan 3, Hrabak 3, Telan 2, Salangsang 1, Ibanes 0.
Quarters: 29-14, 58-40, 72-69, 90-90, 105-100
Second Game
ALASKA 93—Tenorio 25, Simpson 24, Baguio 22, De Vance 10, Thoss 4, Hugnatan 4, Cablay 2, Cariaso 2.
GINEBRA 91—Miller 19, Menk 15, Daniels 14, Intal 11, Tubid 9,Hatfield 9, Salvacion 6, Helterbrand 6, Villanueva 2, Wilson 0, Cruz 0, Cortez 0.
Quarters: 17-28, 40-44, 68-65, 93-91

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