Alaska Aces aim to enter quarterfinals on high note
WHILE the consecutive losses they absorbed in their last two games in the PBA Philippine Cup dealt a huge blow to their chances of securing a top two finish at the end of the elimination round, and notch the twice- to- beat incentive that goes with it in the next phase, still the Alaska Aces are not being down on themselves and are instead determined to finish on a high note.
To take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the 7 p.m. main game today of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Aces (6-4) play their final game in the classification round with the hope of coming out on top and fortifying their place in the quarterfinals.
Currently tied at fourth place, Alaska is outside looking in for the top two but is already assured of a top six finish which would allow it to play in a best- of- three series in the next round.
As per tournament format, only the top eight teams at the end of the elimination round move on to the next phase with the top two enjoying a twice-tobeat edge over the two lowest teams while the middle teams battle in a best- of-three series — # 3 vs. #6 and # 4 vs. #5.
The Aces come in to their game against third- running Rain or Shine ( 5- 3) off a loss to the league- leading San Miguel Beermen, 109- 96, in an out- of- town game in Batangas City last Saturday.
It was their second in as many games after dropping their previous match against the NLEX Road Warriors.
Alaska gave everything they got against the Beermen but just could not complete the win as the latter showed the composure and step- up abilities, anchored by their starters, to withstand the Aces’ challenge.
JVee Casio paced Alaska with 20 points as Sonny Thoss added 15 and Vic Manuel and Kevin Racal had 13 points apiece.
The loss set the Aces back in their push for the top where they were at earlier in the tournament after racking up six consecutive victories midway into.
Despite the slippage, the Aces are not losing focus on their end goal and looking to regroup heading into the higher rounds and go as deep as possible in the conference.
“Our goal is to win the championship at the end of every conference and not to be number one at the end of the elimination round. It remains that way. We want to keep bettering ourselves and learn each time moving forward,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after their game against San Miguel.
He went on to say that they will try to claim the win over Rain or Shine, which is on a three-game winning streak and off a near two- week break, to have something to build on come the quarterfinals wherever they made end up.
“They (E-Painters) have been playing well. They beat Magnolia in their last game. They are wellrested and will be ready. So we really have to prepare for them,” the Alaska coach said.
Meanwhile, in the first game at 4: 30 p. m., San Miguel ( 7- 2) goes for a spot in the top two when they take on also-rans Kia Picanto (1-9).