Ginebra, Alaska, NLEX press bids as race for PBA playoff places resumes after All-Star break
After the fun of the PBA All-Stars, Greg Slaughter returns to Ginebra duty when the Kings take on Asi Taulava and the NLEX Road Warriors in the race for Commissioner's Cup playoff spots. Jerome Ascano

FOUR teams fighting for postseason berths press their respective bids as the PBA Commissioner's Cup resumes after the All-Star break on Wednesday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

NLEX, Alaska, and Blackwater, three teams outside the magic circle of eight, see action along with Barangay Ginebra, which, despite running fifth in the 12-team standings, is still in a precarious position in the import-spiced conference where only the top eight teams are going to advance to the next round.

Sixth and seventh-running Barako Bull and GlobalPort are just a half-game behind, while eighth-ranked KIA is a game below the Kings (4-3), who take on the ninth-running Road Warriors at 7 p.m. after the 10th and 11th-placed Aces and Elite face off in the curtain raiser at 4:15 p.m.

The Aces, with only two wins two show in seven games, are in danger of missing the playoffs, a surprising turnaround for a team coming off a finals appearance in the Philippine Cup.

Alaska will have to win its last four games to boost its chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals, but is especially focused on the task at hand against the Elite, the expansion team with a 2-6 win-loss card.

“We are not thinking about any other games than this one,” Aces coach Alex Compton said on Tuesday as he returns from his All-Star duties along with star forward Calvin Abueva and rookie guard Chris Banchero. “I think we all understand that our backs are against the wall.”

The Aces will stick to what they do best in shackling the Elite, anchored by import Marcus Douthit, who is averaging 19.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.9 blocks, and 1.3 steals in 43.3 minutes of play.

“We all know how good Marcus is and we really need to come out with sustained defensive intensity if we are going to be able to win this game,” said Compton, who is counting on his own reinforcement in Damion James as the Aces hope to bounce back after allowing KIA to score 103 points in their loss last Tuesday.

While they also rely on their defensive prowess, the Road Warriors (3-4) hope to get significant firepower from their locals particularly Mac Cardona and KG Canaleta to ease some of the scoring load off import and expected Ginebra target Al Thornton, who is second in the league in scoring with a norm of 31.4 points.

“Mac and KG’s contribution on offense is crucial due to the fact that Ginebra will try to limit him (Thornton),” Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez said.


“We have to emphasize more on our defensive rotations and our offensive execution,” Fernandez added as NLEX will try to stop the Michael Dunigan-bannered Kings.

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