ITS PBA Governors Cup showdown with Meralco couldn’t have come at a very crucial time for Alaska.
Faced with a must-win game to remain in the hunt for a quarterfinals berth, the Aces have an added worry opposite the Bolts following their timely acquisition of veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo in their Friday encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 4:15 p.m. match marks the first time de Ocampo, 35, will suit up for the Bolts since his shocking trade from TnT Katropa on Monday.
Alaska coach Alex Compton admitted the arrival of de Ocampo brings a lot to the table for Meralco.
“They just added one of the best power forwards, smartest, and clutch players in the history of the PBA,” said Compton in referring to de Ocampo, a many-time member of Gilas Pilipinas in the past.
Meralco is currently running second behind leader and defending champion Barangay Ginebra in the standings at 6-2 and is on track of clinching a possible Top Four berth in the playoffs and a twice-to-beat edge in the next round.
Alaska is currently out of the no. 8 loop with a 3-6 record, although it had won its last three games to stay in quarterfinal contention provided it sweeps its remaining two games.
It won’t be easy, according to Compton.
“This is a tough situation for us. We have what is a must-win against one of the very best teams in our league,” said the Alaska coach. “Meralco has a dominant import in (Allen) Durham, and coach Norman (Black) has really got them playing disciplined basketball.
“I don’t think there’s any question that this match-up will require our best game of the conference.”
Alaska will have Rain or Shine for its final elimination round assignment on Sept. 20.