ANTIPOLO CITY – Chris Banchero isn’t about to use his injured ankle as an issue in Alaska’s 97-92 loss against Meralco Sunday night in the PBA Governors Cup semifinals at the Ynares Center.
The Aces win as one and they lost as one unit, too, according to the Fil-Italian guard.
“The ankle was not an issue. It was not the reason why we played like that,” said Banchero after Game 1.
“We got to play much better as a team.”
It was the Aces’ flat start that’s really the concern of the team, Banchero pointed out.
“It’s kind of been our issue (slow start) especially against a team like Meralco, who’s been playing so well. We really lost that game in the first half.”
Alaska shot just 31 percent from the field in the opening half and were left behind early. It played catch-up against the Bolts the rest of the way.
Banchero, who’s nursing a sprained ankle that made him a game-time decision for coach Alex Compton, didn’t see action until midway in the second period, by which time Alaska was already down by a double digit deficit.
“They’re just too good of a team (Meralco) to come out like that, too good of an import, too good of a player,” he said of the Bolts.
Despite still some swelling and pain on his sprained ankle, the 29-year-old playmaker still managed to play 30 minutes and shot well from the field where he went 7-of-9 to finish with 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
“It hurts, but when I’m out there the adrenalin kind of takes over. I don’t feel that much,” said Banchero, who will continue to receive treatment on his ankle by Monday.
Nonetheless, he expects to play even better and log in longer minutes when Game 2 of the best-of-five series resumes on Tuesday at the Mall of Asian Arena.
It’s a game the Aces can’t afford to lose again,” according to Banchero, who was sporting a Guns N’ Roses shirt after coming out of the Alaska dugout.
“I think I’ll be really ready to go on Tuesday,” he said, “It’s gonna be a good one.It’s a huge game. We can’t go down 2-0. We need to even out the series."