ALASKA and Barako Bull are both assured of a place in the PBA Governors Cup playoffs, but each one will have a mission when they clash on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The rejuvenated Aces of Alex Compton currently stand at 4-4 (win-loss) and can tie Air21 and San Miguel Beer at the end of the eliminations with a victory over the Energy.
Depending on the outcome in the final games of Ginebra, Rain or Shine (all 5-3) as well as the tiebreak quotient, the Aces may even put themselves in position for a place in the Top 4.
On the other hand, Barako Bull can catch Alaska at 4-5 with a win and - by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule - stay away from No. 8 seeding, which entails a quarterfinal face-of against the top seed.
The Aces formally clinched a spot in the playoffs after clobbering Ginebra, 79-66, on Friday while the Energy clinched their place after winning their last two outings behind new import Allen Durham.
The wide-bodied Durham, who replaced Eric Wise, has played big in the team’s late surge in the eliminations, averaging 30 points, 26.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in the team’s 122-98 victory over GlobalPort and 88-74 decision against Talk ‘N Text, respectively.
Compton admitted Durham is fun to watch owing to the many intangibles he brings to the Energy, but certainly will provide a big headache for the Aces in their 3 p.m. match.
“Barako is playing fantastic right now, and their import is awesome. He’s (Durham) really fun to watch because he plays the right way, but I hate to coach against them (Energy),” Compton said.
Alaska has won its last two games since the team’s franchise-worst 51-point loss to Rain or Shine. The Aces bounced back with a 92-83 win over defending champion San Mig, before its 13-point romp over Ginebra.
“I wasn’t concerned with the 51-point (loss). We still have a bunch of guys who played in a championship just last season so the competitive pride of the guys got hit,” he said.
“There’s not anything to say, but they (Aces) came back. They came to show who they are.”
On the other hand, Barako Bull coach Siot Tanquingcen said Durham’s solid play should not give his locals a reason to rely too much on the former Grace Bible College standout.
“We just have to improve each game and be able to get a more consistent scoring from the locals,” Tanquingcen said.