AFTER two blowout losses in its first three games, Alaska hopes to pull off a morale-boosting victory against Philippine Cup Finals tormentor San Miguel Beer when they renew their rivalry in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces won just once in three games, a 96-95 escape act against the NLEX Road Warriors on February 6. But their twin losses came against defending champion Purefoods Star Hotshots, 108-88 and just last week, a 95-73 beating at the hands of the GlobalPort Batang Pier.
The good news is, forwards Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel, both coming off separate knee injuries, will be back after missing the team’s game against GlobalPort. Playmaker JV Casio already joined practice on Monday and will be a game-time decision, according to Alaska coach Alex Compton.
“Hopefully, they (Beermen) continue their slow start, but we can’t count on that. I don’t believe they will miss as many shots as they did when they play us,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
“I expect the Finals intensity again. Hopefully, we can match it.”
Game time is at 7 p.m.
Compton admitted that the short break between the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup has somehow contributed to Alaska’s sluggish start.
“It will be a challenge in a physical standpoint. I know we played the most games in the league last conference at 26, and they (Beermen) are the second-most I guess, pero siguro, the wear and tear na iyan,” he added.
Compton hopes the Aces could get a much more solid showing from import DJ Covington, who averages 22.6 points, but only 8.6 rebounds, the lowest among imports.
“DJ is young. He’s got a strong body and he’s long,” said Compton. “I think he has certain strengths we need to highlight in order for us to be successful.”
Meantime, San Miguel coach Leo Austria is hoping to finally end the skid.
“We have to stick together dahil every time may crisis, lahat ng small problems babanggitin iyan kaya nga sinasabi ko sa kanila, what we need is positive energy, encouraging your teammates and sticking together,” Austria said, who steered San Miguel to its first all-Filipino conference title since 2001.
Import Ronald Roberts will still play for the Beermen, contrary to reports former Rain or Shine reinforcement Arizona Reid is taking over.
The 6-foot-8 Roberts is averaging 22.6 points, 17.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the team’s 0-3 start this conference.