ALASKA coach Alex Compton has one giant problem in his hands, and he goes by the name of Peter John Ramos.
“He (Ramos) is a problem for anyone to handle and the local (KIA) players are all stepping up and making plays as well,” Compton said ahead of the Aces' PBA Commissioner's Cup match against the Carnival on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“For the first time in their short time in the PBA, KIA has a distinct advantage in having an absolutely dominant import in PJ Ramos,” added Compton.
Compton has every reason to be worried. The 7-3 Ramos is the league's most dominant player at the moment and is coming off a tournament-best 49-point performance in KIA's 104-115 loss to Blackwater on Saturday.
To succeed against KIA, Alaska needs a big game from Damion Jones, a member of the 2014 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs who averaged 33.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in his two games with the Aces since replacing DJ Covington.
However, the Aces are 0-2 (win-loss) with Jones and 2-4 overall, needing a big push in the final stretch of the single-round eliminations to have any hope of reaching the eight-team playoffs.
The Aces can at least count on another big body to help stop Ramos in Sonny Thoss, who is set to make his debut in the midseason conference after being sidelined by a plantas fascia injury.
The 4:15 p.m. match will be the first for Thoss since Alaska's runner-up finish to San Miguel in the Philippine Cup.
On the other hand, KIA will be playing their first game since the departure of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao to train for his megafight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
KIA lead assistant coach Chito Victolero said before he left on Saturday, Pacquiao reminded the Carnival to make every effort to win two of their last three games to ensure a spot in the top eight.
“Ang bilin ni coach Manny was to just stay positive and win two of our last three games,” Victolero said, whose team is currently in ninth spot with its 3-5 record.
KIA's three wins this conference came at the expense of reigning Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer, defending Commissioner’s Cup champion Purefoods Star and Talk ‘N Text last month.
Victolero said local support is vital if the Carnival hope to continue their giant-killing ways.
“Yung ball movement namin importante yan, because in our game against Talk ‘N Text, we had more than 30 assists. So that’s one department we need to improve on,” he said.