ALASKA parades its bruise brothers against Blackwater’s young, versatile forward tandem as both teams tangle for playoff positioning on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel test the mettle of Mac Belo and Art dela Cruz as the Aces and the Elite face off at 4:30 p.m. in the curtain-raiser of the TNT KaTropa-Star matchup at 6:45 p.m.
Coming off a 97-90 win in overtime over Star last Wednesday, the Aces are eager to build momentum heading into the latter stage of the elimination round as a victory will jack up their win-loss record to 5-3 that will gain them a share of second spot with Rain or Shine and GlobalPort.
But the Aces are facing a 3-year-old, yet emerging squad in the Elite, bannered by the rookie standout Belo and sophomore sensation Dela Cruz, who have been creating mismatches with their ability to play either forward spots.
“Blackwater is no longer an expansion team. They are legit,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “They got the best player in the draft in Mac Belo, Art dela Cruz is playing like an all-star, and coach Leo really has the whole team playing.”
“We will need to have great defensive energy, take care of the basketball, and play our best for forty-eight minutes to win this,” he added.
The Elite, running sixth in a tie with Phoenix at 4-4, are aiming to arrest a two-game losing streak, the latest a 118-93 defeat at the hands of San Miguel Beer to start the year last week.
The Texters, sporting a similar 4-3 mark as the Aces, are also seeking a victory against the Hotshots (3-4) in the main game.