ALASKA and San Mig Coffee look to close out the elimination round on a high note on Sunday, but are both also hoping to keep their players fresh with playoff action set to start the next day.
The Aces and Mixers clash on Easter Sunday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Alaska side looking to score its fifth straight win and San Mig hoping to arrest a two-game slide.
Coach Luigi Trillo said he is taking extra care not to overwork his starters as Alaska goes back to action on Monday when the playoffs begin.
The match starts at 3 p.m.
“The thing there, when you are winning, you get momentum and confidence going into the playoffs. And that I think is enough motivation for us as we get ready for the playoffs,” Trillo said.
Cone, with a banged up roster heading to the playoffs, also intends to limit the minutes of key players including import James Mays and James Yap, who are both nursing back pains.
Forward Marc Pingris (left rib bruise) and Rookie guard Justin Melton (fractured right middle finger) are doubtful starters.
“We don't want to exhaust our key players because we still got some guys who are injured so we'll probably hold some of them out for the (Alaska) game,” explained Cone.
Cone mentioned that with a tight playoff schedule that meant playing on Monday, the Mixers are simply looking at the bigger picture at this point.
“We're put in a situation where we just have to do things smartly and not just fous on one game because we still have to play Monday,” he added.
A win by Alaska, coupled by a victory by Rain or Shine against Ginebra on Sunday, would mean the Aces will face the Mixers in the best-of-three quarterfinal series.
If Rain or Shine ends up at 5-4, the Painters wind up as the No. 4 seeds and face fifth-seeded Meralco.
Ginebra will then drop to the No. 8 seed, where it will face the unenviable task of meeting top seed Talk 'N Text, which scored a nine-game sweep of the single round eliminations.