MANILA—Josh Urbiztondo thumped his chest in the pandemonium that followed his fourth straight three-
pointer of the night.

The hot-shooting Air21 point guard knocked down four successive triples in the third period and the Express held on for a 97-94 come-from-behind win over the Alaska Aces to reach the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals last night at the Araneta Coliseum.

Urbiztondo’s cluster of threes turned everything around for the Express, giving his team an 84-71 spread going into the final quarter after trailing by 18 points in the first half.

“Josh is a streak shooter and a great point guard. You cannot leave him free in the three-point area,” said Air21 coach Bong Ramos, who survived his fourth knockout game of the conference since the Express made their way to the playoffs.

The Express, who are now in their fifth semifinal stint overall, arranged a best-of-five semifinal series with the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters starting tomorrow.

“I got into a rhythm after getting the first one in,” said Urbiztondo, who fired 14 straight points in closing out the third quarter to finish with 17 for the night.

Alpha Bangura had another superb night with 28 points and Dondon Hontiveros added 24 for the Express, who almost let the game escape from their grasp after going 0 of 7 from the field in the final minutes.

“Going to the Araneta Coliseum tonight, I felt really nervous,” said Ramos. “Alaska has an impressive playoff and championship history.”

After Danny Seigle banked in a jumper with four minutes and 21 seconds left, 94-82, the Express went scoreless in the next four minutes.

Cyrus Baguio hit a three and LD Williams scored nine points before missing a desperation heave that could had sent it into overtime.

“I was wrong when I said that the trade was untimely. Our team is now peaking at the right time,” said Ramos, referring to the mid-season trade with San Miguel Beer that brought Hontiveros, Seigle, Dorian Peña and Paul Artadi to the Express.

Williams fired 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while LA Tenorio, Alaska’s savior in Game 1, added 19 for the Aces, who entered the final half enjoying a 51-38 lead.

In the other game, Mark Caguioa erupted for 30 points and Barangay Ginebra toppled Rain Or Shine, 92-82, to seal a semifinal showdown with the Smart Gilas national team last night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Caguioa, who registered his best output since returning from injury in the 2010 Fiesta Cup, had seven points in a 17-4 windup that led to Ginebra’s second straight Final Four appearance this season.

“Mark is a competitor, he’s a fighter,” said Ginebra coach Jong Uichico, whose Kings held Hassan Adams to another dismal performance in the closing minutes.

The Kings will begin their best-of-five semis with the Nationals tomorrow.

“They say he’s doesn’t share the ball but it’s really nice to have him in your team. You would rather have him than have a player who doesn’t fight at all,” added Uichico.

Adams, who scored conference-lows of 12 and nine points in Games 1 and 2, was limited to three points in the fourth and finished with 25 points.

Josh Vanlandingham canned a three-pointer that gave the Elasto Painters their last taste of the lead, 75-73, before the Kings went on a tear anchored on Caguioa.

The scores:
First Game
AIR21 97—Bangura 28, Hontiveros 24, Urbiztondo 17, Seigle 14, Arboleda 6, Reyes 3, Pena 3, Najorda 2, Juntilla 0, Sharma 0, Artadi 0, Avenido 0.
ALASKA 94—Williams 26, Tenorio 19, Baguio 15, Thoss 14, De Vance 12, Eman 6, Borboran 2, Custodio 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarters: 14-21, 38-51, 84-71, 97-94
Second Game
Ginebra 92—Caguioa 30, Miller 15, Brumfield 12, Cortez 10, Mamaril 8, Menk 7, Tubid 6, Labagala 2, Hatfield 2, Wilson J. 0, Wilson W. 0.
Rain or Shine 82—Adams 25, Rodriguez 15, Norwood 11, Belga 9, Vanlandingham 8, Arana 6, Buenafe 6, Tang 2, Chan 0, Kramer 0.
Quarters: 17-18, 42-40, 67-65, 92-82

Source: June Navarro,

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