ALASKA braces for a familiar foe and a rising Phoenix as it fights for playoff survival in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Aces face Cyrus Baguio for the first time after trading their longtime star shooting guard before the start of the season-ending tournament.
“Cy’s a special player. We, at Alaska, know that better than anybody else in the whole league,” Aces coach Alex Compton said of Baguio, who spent the last six years with the Aces. “He’s a great teammate, great guy, and a special player.”
Now, Baguio has provided those traits to the Fuel Masters, leaving a huge imprint on their surge that has seen them win five of their last six games after starting the conference with three straight losses to suddenly gain a crack at a Top Four spot.
“Slowly, but surely, Cyrus gives us stability at the two (spot),” Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said after their 93-81 win over Blackwater last Wednesday in Antipolo.
Eugene Phelps has also been a major factor to the Fuel Masters’ run and he matches up with a fellow prolific import in LaDontae Henton in the 3 p.m. skirmish that’s followed by a matchup pitting defending champion San Miguel Beer and new-look Rain or Shine at 5:15 p.m.
While the Fuel Masters are lurking just outside the four-team line, which comes with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals, after being stuck at the bottom early in the conference, the Aces are still in danger of missing the postseason and are tied with Rain or Shine in eighth and final spot with a 4-5 win-loss record.
“It’s the playoffs for us,” said Compton, whose wards showed a sense of urgency after blasting GlobalPort, 133-106, also last Wednesday. “Everything feels like a knockout game. Hopefully we can be special defensively against Phoenix.”