FOR sophomore playmaker JV Casio, Alaska’s six-game semifinal loss to Talk N Text during the PBA Philippine Cup eventually prepared the Aces physically and mentally for their Commissioner’s Cup campaign.
The 5-foot-10 Casio, selected No. 1 overall by Powerade during the 2011 rookie draft, said as painful as it was to accept the loss to the Tropang Texters, the setback somehow boosted the team’s confidence heading into the mid-season conference.
“Malaking experience yun (playing against Talk ‘N Text in the Philippine Cup semis). At the same time, coming from last season, then facing Talk ‘N Text in the semis, we gave them a good series,” he said.
“It (that series) helps boost the confidence of the players. Then going to this conference, pagpasok ni (import) Rob (Dozier) malaking tulong din siya sa amin kasama na din yung preparation ng coaches namin sa game plan.”
After finishing the eliminations as the top seeds, the Aces disposed of No. 8 seed Air21 in the quarterfinals, and then ousted former champion San Mig Coffee in six games of their semifinals series to make the Finals for the first time in three years.
The Aces face crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra in the best-of-five title series that begins Wednesday.
The former Smart Gilas mainstay said the Aces shouldn’t fall into a sense of complacency against the Kings even if Alaska enjoys a 2-0 head-to-head edge over Ginebra.
“This Finals is gonna be different now. We just have to throw away all the things (we did well) in the eliminations, quarterfinals, and semis. I expect the (Finals) series to be hard-fought games,” explained the 26-year-old former La Salle guard.
Veteran guard Dondon Hontiveros, who has been in numerous Finals appearances, said he and fellow veteran forward Tony del Cruz will do everything they can to provide the much-needed spark for this new-look Alaska squad.
“Kami naman ni Tony, we will try to help out and do what we have been doing the whole conference para manalo `yung team,” said Hontiveros, who has won two league championships with San Miguel during the 2004-2005 Fiesta Conference and the 2009 Fiesta Conference, respectively.