Looks like calm before the storm for Alaska, but Alex Compton won’t be lulled into complacency as Aces battle lowly Bolts
Alaska won all matches against Meralco last season, but Aces coach Alex Compton is not taking the Bolts lightly. Jaime Campos

IT looks like the calm before the storm for Alaska, but coach Alex Compton won’t be lulled into complacency.

The Aces battle the lowly Meralco Bolts on Thursday in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena, a seemingly light assignment before a crucial stretch that will see them face fellow contenders Rain or Shine and San Miguel Beer.

Alaska, already assured of a quarterfinal berth, seek to strengthen their bid for an outright semifinal berth as they face struggling Meralco at 7 p.m.

But Aces coach Alex Compton is not looking past the cellar-dwelling Bolts, who are starving for only their second win in nine games.

“We have a lot of tough games ahead,” said the American mentor, whose team is a half-game behind the front-running Beermen at 6-1 (win-loss). “I don’t think any of them are going to be easy.”

The Aces, coming off an 89-81 win over NLEX, are the odds-on favorites against the Bolts, who were winless against Alaska last season.

The Bolts’ struggles were magnified after they lost to a then fellow bottom-ranked team in Mahindra, 86-83, last Saturday.

Bolts coach Norman Black, though, stressed they have never lacked in motivating their players.

“As a coaching staff, we try our best to motivate them every game,” the champion coach said. “As a former player, (I think) they should be self-motivated, because this is their job, not barangay basketball or college.”

Meralco’s sister team, Talk ‘N Text (4-2), looks to formally clinch a quarterfinal spot as it takes on Barako Bull (3-4) in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos