Alaska coach Joel Banal’s worst fear for Game Three came true on Sunday.
Gabe Freeman exploded in the winner-take-all match against the Aces and carried Barako Bull to the semifinals with a 106-85 demolition in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Freeman had 34 points and 19 rebounds, powering his team to a stint in the best-of-five semifinals against defending champion Talk ‘N Text.
Ronald Tubid and Willie Miller also contributed big for Barako Bull with 20 points apiece while veterans Danny Seigle had 12.
“Freeman recovered from jetlag. The management and the coaching staff thanked the veterans. They refuse to give up,” said Energy coach Junel Baculi, who will be making his first semifinals appearance in the PBA.
With Freeman’s remarkable performance, Baculi said there’s no more reason for them to try to bring back Rodney White for the semis as they decided to stick with the two-time PBA Best Import awardee.
“Freeman will play for us on Tuesday. Hindi na makakabalik si White. He was supposed to be back Friday,” said Baculi.
Alaska was still in the thick of things after the first period, trailing by just one point, 25-24. But Barako Bull, behind Freeman and Tubid, outscored the Aces, 30-18, in the next stage for a comfortable 55-42 halftime lead.
Alaska last threatened at 60-56 but the Energy closed out the third quarter with an 18-7 run to carry a 78-63 lead into the fourth period.
It was all Barako Bull since as Leo Najorda nailed several jumpers to put the game out of reach.
Adam Parada led Alaska with 18 points while Cyrus Baguio and Jay-R Reyes chipped in 14 and 13 points, respectively. LA Tenorio was held to just nine points in the do-or-die contest.
BARAKO 106 – Freeman 34, Tubid 20, Miller 20, Seigle 12, Najorda 10, Pennisi 3, Arboleda 3, Allado 2, Pena 2, Salvador 0.
ALASKA 85 – Parada 18, Baguio 14, Reyes 13, Baracael 12, Custodio 9, Tenorio 9, Thoss 6, Eman 2, Gonzales 2, Salamat 0, Gelig 0.
Quarterscores: 25-24, 55-42, 78-63, 106-85
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