IF Alaska wants to end its long winless drought against San Mig Coffee and former coach Tim Cone, now is the best time to do it.
Winless in seven games against the Mixers since Cone left their fold to join the SMC-owned franchise, the Aces hope to finally gain payback at a time when San Mig is coming off one of its worst losses of the season while its top star, James Yap, is embroiled in a very public spat with his ex-wife.
The Aces are enjoying a fine start in the PBA Commissioner's Cup with a league-best 7-2 (win-loss) record, but one of their losses was handed by San Mig, 68-75, last March 6 on a night when Alaska shot just 22-of-72 overall from the floor for a measly 30 percent clip.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, however, is far from disheartened going to the crunch clash at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We need to keep our focus for a full 48 minutes," he said. "In our last game (against San Mig), we won the first and fourth quarters. We lost the second and third quarters. So it’s a 50-50 chance for both teams."
Alaska, though, will miss top playmaker JV Casio for the third straight game due to a knee injury. The Aces split their last two games in Casio’s absence, dropping a 68-74 decision to the surging Air21 Express on March 15, before bouncing back two days later with a 93-85 whipping of Globalport.
San Mig, on the other hand, is coming off an 82-87 defeat to Air21 on Wednesday in a game where Yap struggled on 6-of-19 shooting, just hours after news of his latest court dispute with former wife Kris Aquino broke out.
Yap, though, has assured that he never lets his personal problems get in the way of his game.
“Sanay na ako sa ganito. Talagang tinatatagan ko na lang ang loob ko,” the 6-3 two-time MVP said. “Saka tinitignan ko na lang na sa tuwing may problema, mas lumalakas ako."
Cone is also expecting the Mixers, now 4-5, to bounce back after the shock loss to the Express.
“We’re going through a bit of a struggle at this point and we’re not playing the basketball we expect from ourselves, but we also expect to push through and get ourselves going,” Cone said.