Alaska aims to preseve unblemished record as Aces battle re-energized Barako Bull side
Coach Alex Compton and the Aces look to move closer to an automatic semifinal berth. Jerome Ascano

ALASKA tries to inch closer to one of the two automatic semifinals slots when it collides with unpredictable Barako Bull in the opening match of the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta coliseum.

Under rookie coach Alex Compton, the Aces (6-0) have transformed into a mean defensive squad, holding their opponents to just 71.5 points, tops in the league.

But Compton isn’t expecting his team to just roll past Barako Bull, which just clinched its first win this conference under new coach Koy Banal last Sunday.

[See Barako Bull beats Kia Motors for breakthrough win behind rookie Jake Pascual's career game]

“Coming off a win, we know Barako is playing with confidence,” said Compton, ahead of their 4:15 p.m. game against Barako Bull.

The Alaska coach said their main concern is how to prevent Barako Bull’s slew of gunners from connecting from the three-point arc.

“Their guards pose a problem for us and Mick Pennisi is one of the most unique and intelligent players in the league. Our defensive pressure must cause problems for Barako in order for us to be successful,” added the 40-year-old Compton.

Barako Bull averages seven three-point shots made per game this conference, with JC Intal, Mick Pennisi, Denok Miranda, Carlo Lastimosa and even newly-acquired Paolo Hubalde capable of knocking down the triple anytime.

Veteran center Eric Menk and Sam Eman are expected to man the paint as Sonny Thoss might still be out due to foot injury.

On the other hand, Dorian Pena already joined the team's practice last Monday and could possibly see action against Alaska.

The 6-foot-7 Pena has been out of commission for quite some time as he recovered from an Achilles injury sustained since last season.

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