EXPECT Alaska to make only minor changes as it tries to bounce back against Rain or Shine in Game Two of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces started on the wrong foot as they lost the opener of the best-of-seven series, 105-97, last Friday.
But veteran shooting guard Cyrus Baguio feels major adjustments are hardly necessary in the match that tips off at 5 p.m. as they fought back from an early deficit and kept it a tight battle all throughout in the first game.
“Tingin namin kaya naman eh, pero yung maliliit na bagay – miscommunication, maraming errors, ‘di namin na-execute yung offense sa last three minutes,” Baguio said. “Mahaba pa yung series, marami pang mangyayari.”
“Ang importante, positive pa rin kami na makakabalik pa kami,” added Baguio, who wound up as the top local scorer for Alaska with 14 points in 28 minutes.
Baguio, however, was sluggish early with just two points in the first half, before heating up in the third where he scored the rest of his output before going scoreless in the payoff period.
“More on psychological,” Baguio said, referring to the effects of the semifinal series against Meralco that went to the distance. “Ako, two games masama laro sa semis, buti nakabawi sa third, pero kinapos at nabitin pa rin sa fourth.”
“Nararamdanan ko na yung fatigue,” he added. “Pero positive lang. Marami naman kami. Meron pang naka-reserve na players, sana more on ikutin pa ni coach yung bench para mas fresh kami.”
Noy Baclao shone brightest from the Aces’ bench with 10 points, three boards, two blocks, and two assists in 33 extending minutes as he stepped up in the absence of injured big men Vic Manuel and Eric Menk.
“Noy played great,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “Vic’s our leading scorer and rebounder and that opens up minutes when he’s out. Eric Menk’s an important part of our team and that opens up minutes when he’s out.”
“We believe, similar to Rain or Shine, in playing a lot of guys and so due to our injuries to some of our guys, other guys get more minutes,” he added. “We need (our bench) to play great this series for us to have a chance.”
And definitely for Rob Dozier to sustain his fine offensive play after the Aces import produced a career-high 41 points in Game One.
“Maganda yung nilaro ni Rob, bumabalik na yung laro nya nung nagchampion kami nung 2013,” Baguio said. “Tingin ko kulang lang ang locals, kailangan mag-step up yung iba para matulungan namin siya.”