THE eight straight losses Alaska had against San Mig Coffee is now just a mere footnote as the top-seeded Aces and the defending champions Mixers begin their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces have not beaten the Mixers in their past eight encounters going to Game One of the best-of-five series set at 6:45 p.m., including an 82-83 loss in a highly-emotional match during the eliminations.
But coach Luigi Trillo said the Aces just have to forget about the numbers and only focus on the task at hand.
“We don’t need to dwell on that (0-8 record head-to-head against the Mixers). We just need to focus on what’s ahead. This is our golden opportunity to prove the doubters wrong,” said the young coach whose team is coming off fresh from a week-long rest after easily dispatching eight-seed Air21 in the first round of the playoffs, 87-81.
“We need to be stronger, smarter and tougher.”
San Mig Coffee forward Marc Pingris agrees with the Alaska coach 100 percent.
“Zero-zero ito (semifinals) kasi iba ang semis eh. Iba ang eliminations, iba ang semis,” said the 6-foot-6 Pingris.
The long Alaska layoff, according to him, could also work in the Aces’ favor as they try to dissect a Mixers’ side that has been extended to a winner-take-all match by Meralco.
“Mas napaghandaan siguro nila kami ngayon kasi mas fresh sila. Mas advantage din sila kasi napag-aralan din nila kami, pero bibigyan namin sila ng magandang laban,” vowed the power-playing Pingris, who could possibly be matched up against Alaska’s super rookie Calvin Abueva or even import Robert Dozier.
Although the Aces finished with the best record of 11-3 at the end of the eliminations – a testament to the team’s dedication to play defense and stick to its system – Trillo still believes that consistency on defense and the right execution of their offense will be the formula for success against the Mixers.
He also sees reigning Best Import Denzel Bowles as one huge concern for his team.
“Denzel Bowles has been tough. He’s been carrying the team on his shoulders,” Trillo said, noting that the San Mig import is averaging 31.6 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and three shot blocks in his second tour of duty with the Mixers.