After a string of endgame collapses during the double-round eliminations, big man Sonny Thoss believes 'the real Alaska Aces' have finally showed up on Wednesday in the team’s win-or-go-home quarterfinal against top seed Barangay Ginebra.
Now he hopes the eighth-seeded Aces could sustain their fiery form when they go up against the Gin Kings one more time on Saturday in their 4 p.m. winner-take-all showdown at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The winner advances to the semifinals to face the winner of the San Mig Super Coffee-Talk ‘N Text quarterfinal.
“It’s (game on Wednesday) tough but that’s (Alaska’s win against Ginebra) exactly what we want. We’ve been playing similar ways the entire conference, it’s just that we feel unlucky in the end,” Thoss told Spin.ph on Thursday - a much-needed day off for the Aces after playing three do-or-die games in four days.
The 6-7 Thoss came away with his seventh double-double of the conference after finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while making sure Ginebra’s rookie center Greg Slaughter didn’t make his usual damage inside the paint in Wednesday night's victory.
The 6’11” Slaughter still came away with 12 points and 14 rebounds for his ninth double-double in his rookie season, but wasn’t able to dominate the paint in the critical fourth period.
Thoss said battling Slaughter and the 6-9 Japeth Aguilar in the paint can really be energy-zapping considering the size and athleticism he had to deal with.
“It’s tough battling a seven-footer and a 6-9 guy who can jump out of the gym. But come Saturday, we’ve got to find ways to stay aggressive and get everybody involved,” said the former James Cook University standout.
Should Alaska beat Ginebra on Saturday, the Aces can become just the fourth eighth seeded team in the PBA history to defeat the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.
Incidentally, Ginebra was the first team No. 8 seed to achieve the feat when it defeated the then Asi Taulava-led Mobiline (now Talk ‘N Text) in the 1999 All-Filipino Cup, followed by San Miguel Beer over Talk ‘N’ Text in the 2002 Governors Cup and just recently, Powerade over B-Meg in the 2011-12 Philippine Cup.