Philippine Daily Inquirer

Llamados, Aces gun for 2-0 over quarterfin­al foes

- By Musong R. Castillo

AFTER CLOSE Game 1 shaves, Derby Ace and Alaska Milk try to push their respective foes closer to the cliff’s edge today in the PBA Fiesta Conference quarterfin­als at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

The Aces battle the crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the 4 p.m. contest while the Llamados get going at 6:30 p.m. against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

Coaches of the leading teams in the best-of-five series expect rough sailing all the way with Derby Ace’s Ryan Gregorio hoping that James Yap stays as good—if not better—than his series-opening effort of 31 pointswhic­h resulted in a 108102 win.

Alaska’s Tim Cone, on the other hand, vowed to stick to playing with a bigger lineup against theGin Kings, who played small all night and absorbed a 76-72 defeat.

DerbyAce also got a scintillat­ing effort from Peter June Simon in the fourth quarter that held off a hard-charging Rain or Shine finish.

The Llamados, who won the season’s Philippine Cup, turned back this same Rain or Shine crew in five games in the quarterfin­als some months back.

“It’s going to be tough,” Gregorio said when asked how he sees the rest of the series. “They practicall­y have three imports and they are very athletic.” Gregorio was referring to import Rod Nealy and Fil-Americans Gabriel Norwood and Solomon Mercado, the trio which gave the Painters a legitimate shot at winning the series-opener in the endgame.

Nealy scored 30 points but had a crucial miss from three-point range in the dying seconds, while Mercado was held to just a free throw in the second halfwhich aided the Painters’ downfall.

The Llamados also survived with little help from Cliff Brown practicall­y in the whole fourth quarter because of cramps.

Diamon Simpson, meanwhile, is the biggest weapon that Cone has against the Kings, who played with a threeguard rotation all night but still couldn’t outrun the Aces.

Ginebra’s talented guard rotation couldn’t beat Alaska as Mark Caguioa and former two-time MVP Willie Miller were only able to score six points each in a combined 46minutes on the floor and 5-of-24 shooting from the field.

GAMES TODAY ( Cuneta Astrodome)

4 p.m. – Alaska vs Barangay Ginebra

6:30 p.m. – Derby Ace vs Rain or Shine

 ?? THEDEFENSI­VE prowess of Sonny Thoss (right) will be needed by Alaska tonight. ??
THEDEFENSI­VE prowess of Sonny Thoss (right) will be needed by Alaska tonight.

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