SONNY Thoss said it is imperative for Alaska to get its intensity up from the get-go when the Aces face the new-look Globalport in the first game of Saturday’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Aces had a rough start to their title-retention bid Wednesday after absorbing a 72-85 beating at the hands of the Talk ‘N Text.
The 6-foot-7 Thoss said given the short tournament format of just nine games in the elimination round, the Aces’ 3:30 p.m. encounter against the Batang Pier will be critical.
“We still have a lot to improve on so we’re focusing on defense, because we need to sharpen our defense as well as come out with a lot of energy,” said Thoss, last season’s Finals MVP when the Aces swept the Barangay Ginebra Kings, 3-0, on their way to bagging title in the mid-season conference.
The Alaska big man said even with a new system and a new coach, the Aces just can’t take the Batang Pier lightly due to the presence of newly-acquired playmaker Alex Cabagnot, along with the veteran presence of Jay Washington and hardworking import Evan Brock.
“It’s a new coach with a new system for Globalport, but they are motivated over there,” Thoss said. “They beat us last conference, remember that.”
Meantime, Batang Pier new coach Pido Jarencio hopes Washington, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last conference, will be able to rediscover his shooting touch after a so-so debut in the tournament.
The two-time Best Player of the Conference had a quiet nine points and just six rebounds against Air21, while still trying to get back into game shape after partially tearing his plantar fasciia late in the Philippine Cup.
“Medyo marami pang aayusin sa team,” admitted Jarencio.
“Pero pag naayos na iyan tuloy-tuloy na yan kasi yung mga players na inaasahan natin di nag-deliver (against Air21).”
Cabagnot is expected to take a more active role on offense against Alaska after opting to be a facilitator against Air21 during his Globalport debut.