ALASKA’S hardworking rookie Calvin Abueva doesn’t mind the banging he gets in the semifinal series so long as the Aces win.
And so the former NCAA Most Valuable Player from San Sebastian is again ready to mix it up with Talk `N Text’s big men when the Aces look to grab a pivotal 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series at the Mall of Asia Arena Thursday.
Game time is at 6:45 p.m.
The Aces leveled the best-of-seven series at 1-1 last week via a stunning 100-88 victory.
“Medyo masakit ang katawan ko. Bugbog talaga ako, pero gagawin ko ang lahat para manalo kami,” Abueva said, who unloaded 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the Aces’ blowout win in Game Two.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said the long rest between Games 2 and 3 gave the Aces time to recharge considering the race-to-four series has become a physical battle down low.
“We have tired legs just as they are, so we had time to refresh ourselves,” said Trillo.
“I have the highest respect for the Talk ‘N Text organization. They play hard every game, but I just feel we have been playing well also,” added Alaska’s 37-year-old mentor.
Unlike Game One, which Talk ‘N Text won, 66-65, in low-scoring outing, Game Two offered a different story.
Alaska was far more aggressive in Game Two, crashing the boards with ferocity en route to a sizeable 45-34 rebounding advantage.
JV Casio also came through with clutch baskets in the second half to finish with a team-high 22 points on five-of-nine three-point shots to key the Aces’ strong Game Two assault.
But Trillo expects the Tropang Texters to come out a better team in Game Three.
“Talk ‘N Text, well you don’t want to wake up a sleeping dog. But again, we just need to play according to our identity,” said Trillo, referring to Alaska’s swarming defense.
The Tropang Texters’ second half meltdown was due in part to the non-involvement of Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro on the offensive end.
Alapag only scored four points in Game Two. He went 0-of-5 from beyond the arc and 1-of-6 from the two-point zone as he struggled against Alaska’s defense.
Castro managed to score 12 points, though he was uncharacteristically silent in the final period when Alaska made its strong finishing kick.