INJURIES and suspensions couldn't have come at the most unfortunate time for Alaska.
The Aces go to their PBA Philippine Cup showdown against reigning champion San Miguel this Saturday not just without top star Calvin Abueva, but five other players.
Aside from Abueva, also set to miss out the 5 p.m. match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum are veteran Sonny Thoss, Vic Manuel, Noy Baclao, Ping Exciminiano, and Rome dela Rosa.
Manuel and Exciminiano are both suspended for playing in 'larong labas' games.
Coach Alex Compton confirmed the bad news on Thursday.
"We will only have 10 players who can play on Saturday," he said. "I feel bad about for our injured players and for the fans."
Abueva will be missing his second straight game owing to the slight tear in his quadriceps which he suffered in the off-season while training under world-renowned Ganon Baker, an injury which Rome Dela Rosa is also nursing.
Thoss is also out for the second consecutive game due to a knee injury, which Compton said would continue to sideline him for two more weeks, while Baclao is expected to sit out for the next two months after hurting his knee during the Aces’ 88-86 loss to NLEX in its opening assignment.
Both Manuel and Exciminiano meanwhile, have been suspended by management for the game against the Beermen for what Compton referred to as violation of team rules.
Team manager and board of governors Dickie Bachmann later disclosed the two players violated their league contracts by participating in a so-called “larong labas.”
Compton said Alaska knows how hard it would battling a San Miguel side with its depleted roster.
“We were hoping to have a real tough, exciting game with SMB. And we will still do everything we can to play hard, play the Alaska way, and honor the game,” he stressed.
On the one hand, there’s also an upside to the Aces’ injury woes, according to Compton, as it gives extended playing time to the team’s young guns led by Gilas rookie Carl Bryan Cruz, who had a memorable debut of 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Aces.
“It should be a really good experience for guys like Carl Bryan Cruz, Marion Magat, JP Mendoza, and Abel Galliguez,” said the Alaska mentor. “We will still do our best.”
San Miguel will be coming to the match still fresh from a stunning 92-85 upset at the hands of Phoenix Wednesday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.