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NLEX goes to first semis after eliminating Alaska

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By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

The Final Four is complete.

NLEX booked the last ticket to the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals after completing a 2-0 sweep of its quarterfinal series against Alaska with a 87-83 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

Kevin Alas saved the day for the Road Warriors even as their defense over the Aces proved vital in the fourth quarter. They will face the Magnolia Hotshots in the semifinals starting Saturday.

NLEX was actually in control for most of the first half, taking a 49-43 lead at halftime.

But Alaska came alive in the third quarter, dropping 28 points for a 71-68 lead entering the fourth.

The Road Warriors then opened the fourth on a 12-3 run to go up, 80-74, with 5:08 to go.

The Aces went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead, 83-80, with 3:01 left.

Mike Miranda, however, sparked the game-turning 7-0 blast for NLEX with the equalizing triple with 2:47 left.

He then gave the team the lead back, 85-83, with two charities with 2:05 remaining.

Kevin Alas eventually sealed the win with a hang-time layup with 1:14 remaining as both teams failed to score until the end.

Alas finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and one steal, while Miranda chipped in 12 points and three rebounds for the Road Warriors, which is now headed to their first semifinal stint since taking over the Red Bull Barako/Shopinas Clickers franchise.

JR Quinahan added 16 points, five boards, two assists, and one steal.

Calvin Abueva made 17 markers, 16 caroms, and one block for the Aces, which will miss the next round despite entering the playoffs as the third seed. (PNA)