DEFENDING champion Alaska tries to ride the momentum of its huge win over GlobalPort when the Aces take on the Meralco Bolts in the curtain raiser of Wednesday’s doubleheader of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces clobbered the Batang Pier, 93-77, on Saturday for their first win this conference as they redeemed themselves from a sorry 72-85 opening game loss to Talk ‘N Text.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo expects his team to only get better on both ends of the floor with Commissioner’s Cup Best Import Robert Dozier back in tow.
“I’m worried about Meralco. I mean these guys (Bolts) can really play so for us, we just got to be consistent on both ends of the floor,” Trillo said.
The 5:45 p.m. game will also feature new acquisition Vic Manuel, who was obtained on Monday by Alaska in exchange for outside-shooting big man Aldrech Ramos.
Trillo said the newly-acquired undersized forward will have to earn his minutes, though the former PSBA Blue Jaguar will undoubtedly give the Aces another solid inside operator to help out veterans Sonny Thoss and Gabby Espinas.
“He’s (Manuel) gonna have to earn his minutes on his way in,” Trillo said. “But we’ll not gonna put him in a situation where he will not succeed because we know he can bring versatility at the four (power forward) and three (small forward).
Meantime, the Bolts opened the conference with a 76-94 defeat at the hands of the rampaging San Miguel Beermen.
Import Brian Butch debuted with solid numbers of 29 points and 21 rebounds, but only Gary David stepped up among the locals with 20 points as the Bolts were completely outplayed in their first game in the import-spiced conference.
“We worked on the things that need major adjustment like free throw shooting, offensive execution, and rebounding,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said after the team’s practice Tuesday.
The Bolts shot a horrendous 21-of-39 from the foul line against the Beermen, had only eight assists compared to the 27 of San Miguel, while shooting just 34.7 percent from the field (26-of-75).
Fil-Am forward Jared Dillinger is a game-time decision, according to Gregorio, due to bacterial infection which he already had even before the game against San Miguel.
The hardworking Dillinger was confined at the hospital shortly after the game and has been recuperating since.