ALASKA shoots for the early lead in the PBA Governors Cup when it tangles with Globalport in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces are coming off a confidence-boosting 94-87 victory over powerhouse San Miguel Beermen on the opening day of the season-ending conference.
Coach Luigi Trillo said defense will again be Alaska’s trump card against the Batang Pier, who were clobbered by Barangay Ginebra just last Tuesday, 89-71.
“Last conference (Commissioner’s Cup), we got in a flow there with our defense, kahit nag-struggle `yung offense namin. But our defense made us get a six-game win streak there,” said Trillo.
The Aces are aiming for a second straight win in the 5:45 p.m. encounter for the solo lead.
Trillo’s local frontline was simply imposing against the Beermen.
Sonny Thoss finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while playing solid defense against June Mar Fajardo, while Calvin Abueva and Gabby Espinas combined for 22 points and 19 rebounds.
Former NBA veteran Henry 'Bill' Walker had a near triple-double of 27 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists in 41 minutes of action with the Aces during his league debut.
“I’m happy and proud of Sonny Thoss. He was the main reason (for the team’s win against San Miguel). He was playing with a lot of fire and I think it rubbed off on (import Henry) Walker, Calvin and Gabby,” he added.
Meantime, GlobalPort hopes to put behind its poor performance against the Kings by coming up with a better defensive effort against the Aces.
Rookie guard Terrence Romeo makes his return to active duty after skipping the team's opening match as well as GlobalPort's last two games of the Commissioner's Cup due to a back injury.
The presence of the one-time UAAP Most Valuable Player gives the Batang Pier another legitimate scoring threat, while allowing veteran point guard Alex Cabagnot to focus on playmaking.
Batang Pier coach Pido Jarencio said the only upside in the team’s 18-point loss to Ginebra was the effort the team showed at least during the first half where it cut what was once an 11-point deficit to just two by halftime.
“We’re just down by 10 or 11 then naka-recover kami. Pero nung dumikit kami, pagdating lang ng second half, totally nag-shut down kami sa depensa,” he said.
“And adjustment na lang is how to finish strong.”
Import Leroy Hickerson, now in his third stint in the league, scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Batang Pier, who finished with a 1-8 record during the Commissioner’s Cup.