PBA: Harris powers Alaska to breakthrough finals win over Magnolia

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2018 08:57 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2018 09:16 PM

Alaska import Mike Harris rises for a lay-up against Magnolia in Game 3 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) After dropping the first two games of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals, the Alaska Aces are on the board.

Riding a huge second quarter and a fantastic performance from their import, Alaska claimed a 100-71 triumph over the Magnolia Hotshots in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Hotshots still lead the series, 2-1, but momentum is now on the side of the Aces heading into Wednesday's Game 4 at the Araneta Coliseum.

Mike Harris was superb, scoring 22 of his 36 points in a scintillating third quarter to secure the win for the Aces. The import made 14 of his 22 shots, and added 18 rebounds to his stat line.

"I think we had a great defensive effort, and we made some shots," said Alaska head coach Alex Compton after the game. "Overall, the story of the game in the first three quarters was, we made shots, we didn't turn it over, and we defended at the same time."

After trailing 16-22 at the end of the opening frame, Alaska exploded for 34 points in the second period to open up a double-digit advantage. Carl Bryan Cruz sparked the initial run, scoring seven points including the triple that made it 32-26 for Alaska.

"Bryan has done work all year," said Compton. "In a conference like this, it's always tough for bigs to get minutes, but Bryan's been active in practice, listening, asking questions, and working hard. I'm really proud of him."

Simon Enciso then waxed hot in the latter part of the period, nailing three three-pointers including a huge make that made it 50-33 for the Aces with under a minute left. A trifecta by Romeo Travis forced Alaska to settle for a 16-point cushion, 50-36, heading into the break.

The Aces outscored the Hotshots, 34-14, in the pivotal second quarter. They limited Magnolia to just six field goals, while making 13 of their 22 attempts from the field, including half of their 10 three-pointers.

Harris then took over in the third frame. The import bullied his way inside the paint for buckets, then drained three three-pointers in succession -- the second of which became a four-point play after he was also fouled by Magnolia counterpart Travis.

When Harris sat down in the final two minutes of the third period, Alaska was well in control, 76-49. The lead ballooned to 34 points, 83-49, after a lay-up in transition by Vic Manuel.

Both teams rested their starters in the fourth period as Alaska cruised to victory. The Aces' lead ballooned to 36 points, 92-56, with 7:55 left off a Manuel lay-up.

This marks Magnolia's worst loss in the finals. Their previous worst defeat also came against Alaska, in Game 5 of the 1997 Governors' Cup, when the Milkmen crushed the Purefoods Carne Norte, 94-66, to clinch the title.

Vic Manuel added 14 points, Simon Enciso had 12, and Cruz finished with 10 points for the Aces, who shot 48% from the field against a usually stout Magnolia defense. They scored 23 points off the Hotshots' 20 turnovers.

Travis led Magnolia with 18 points, but Mark Barroca was the only other Hotshot in double-digits with 13 points. They made only 33% of their shots, including only six three-pointers all throughout the game. Outside of Barroca, Magnolia's explosive backcourt (Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee, PJ Simon, and Justin Melton) combined for just six points.

However, Compton is aware that Game 4 will be an entirely different scenario.

"I can almost guarantee you that there won't be another game like this," he said. "They're too good, too well-coached, too talented. And we just made some shots. I expect Game 4 to be a lot more like Game 2."

Magnolia won Game 1, 100-84, and slipped past the Aces in Game 2, 77-71.

The scores:

ALASKA 100 -- Harris 36, Manuel 14, Enciso 12, Cruz 10, Banchero 6, J. Pascual 4, Teng 4, Gallieguez 4, Casio 4, Baclao 2, Andrada 2, Racal 2, Thoss 0, Magat 0, Exciminiano 0, Potts 0.

MAGNOLIA 71 -- Travis 18, Barroca 13, Herndon 7, Sangalang 7, Mendoza 6, dela Rosa 5, Abundo 4, Reavis 3, Melton 2, Lee 2, Jalalon 2, Ramos 2, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, K. Pascual 0, Brondial 0.

Quarter scores: 16-22, 50-36, 83-50, 100-71