Alaska, Mer­alco be­gin semis duel

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

Alaska Milk and Mer­alco, two teams who are both up­beat and in high spir­its af­ter de­fy­ing great odds to make the Fi­nal Four, both look to push their drives fur­ther as they start their side of the PBA Gov­er­nors Cup best-of-five semi­fi­nal se­ries at the Ynares Sports Cen­ter in An­tipolo tonight.

There’s not much of a play­off his­tory be­tween the two teams. Both sim­ply pur­sue a lofty as­pi­ra­tion in their se­ries that de­ter­mines which team will do the last dance with the win­ner of the other semis matchup pit­ting Barangay Gine­bra and Mag­no­lia.

Tip-off in the se­ries opener is at 6:30 p.m. with the Aces hav­ing the ad­van­tage of a day longer of rest. But the Bolts will ride the mo­men­tum of six straight wins in do-or-die matches.

It’s a duel of two teams that showed great de­sire and de­ter­mi­na­tion to reach this point.

While the Bolts avoided elim­i­na­tion in six knock­out set­tos, the Aces went through noth­ing less than a quar­ters matchup with the pow­er­house Beer­men to make the semis.

Mer­alco now has a chance for a third straight Gov­er­nors Cup fi­nals while Alaska has its sights set on a first ti­tle play­off in seven con­fer­ences.

“I have the high­est re­spect for coach Nor­man, Mer­alco, Allen Durham and how hard they are play­ing. I was so im­pressed watch­ing them play. I know we have a real bat­tle on our hands this se­ries,” said Alaska coach Alex Comp­ton. In com­plet­ing a great turn­around from a 1-6 start in the con­fer­ence, Black, mean­while, is now fo­cused on push­ing his team for­ward.

He’s now very pos­i­tive with what they have achieved in their last six games and on how they’re play­ing go­ing into the semis.

“A lot of these turn­around was caused by the all-around game of Allen Durham. He’s scor­ing, re­bound­ing the ball, and de­fend­ing. Then if he leads like that, his team­mates are go­ing to fol­low,” said Black.

And Black said all his play­ers are just de­ter­mined to stay in the hunt.

“It’s the de­sire of the play­ers to con­tinue win­ning. This con­fer­ence, we’ve done well in the last two years with Allen. It would be pretty bad to get elim­i­nated im­me­di­ately. That’s why the body is fight­ing. We know we have a good im­port and all we need to do is to sup­port him and give our­selves a chance of win­ning,” said Black.

The Aces, how­ever, have their own gem of an im­port in Mike Har­ris.

Then there have been the con­sis­tent out­stand­ing per­for­mances of Alex Comp­ton and Vic Manuel, and the killer press­ing game of the Alaska team.

Black feels, though, that they have been pre­pared by their Phoenix matchup for the Alaska se­ries.

“We might be for­tu­nate that we played Phoenix in the quar­ters be­cause they’re a press­ing team. They force a lot of turnovers. They score a lot points off turnovers and off fast­breaks, very sim­i­lar to what Alaska does,” said Black.

“We’ll see pretty much things we saw against Phoenix. So our press breaks and all the things we have to do to break their pres­sure and get the ball down court will come in handy when we face Alaska,” Black added.

“Of course, Alaska is a dif­fer­ent team, with a dif­fer­ent set of per­son­nel but sim­i­lar prin­ci­ples. Maybe be­cause coach Alex and coach Louie (Alas) used to work to­gether.”

In the elims, the Aces whipped the Bolts, 80-72. —

PBA FILE PHOTO

Alaska Aces' Chris Banchero and tough de­fender Jared Dillinger of Mer­alco Bolts will face each other in the start of their semis se­ries tonight.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.