GLOBALPORT makes its first official PBA semifinal appearance on Monday, and out to welcome the Batang Pier are no less than the top-seeded Alaska Aces in Game One of their Smart Bro-Philippine Cup best-of-seven series at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Batang Pier, seeded No. 5, will be coming to the 7 p.m. match still on a high after bringing down no less than popular team Barangay Ginebra in their do-or-die battle for a seat in the Final Four.
Coach Pido Jarencio said the semis stint makes up what he termed to as the ‘second half’ of the team’s goal in the all-Filipino conference.
“Kumbaga sa basketball, mission accomplished kami nung first half dahil semis na kami,” said the former hotshot turned coach from University of Santo Tomas. “Now we’re going to the semis, third quarter na ng game ito, second half na.”
But if they’re able to survive the Kings, Jarencio is aware getting past the Aces is an even tougher job.
Alaska ended up as the top seed going to the playoffs after a fine stint in the eliminations earned it an outright seat in the semifinals. The Aces are also coming off a two-week break after playing their last game on December 20 in a victory over Barako Bull.
Jarencio accepts the reality of the playoff-toughened Aces being the overwhelming favorite to win the series. All he wants now is for GlobalPort to enjoy the ride and give everything Alaska could handle.
“Basta ang motivation namin, nothing to lose kami dito,” he said.
A major concern for the Batang Pier is Alaska’s unforgiving pressing defense and the man they called ‘The Beast,’ Calvin Abueva.
“We have to counter their pressing, kaya more on press break kami,” noted Jarencio. “Yung energy ni Abueva, kailangan din naming sabayan.”
But as Ginebra learned the hard way, Alaska is not about to take the Batang Pier lightly.
“They can score, make tough shots, and have guys who can feed off of the guys who create for them,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.