Kevin Racal admits constant battles with Calvin Abueva in practice toughen him up
Kevin Racal shone on both ends for Alaska on Friday night. Jerome Ascano

KEVIN Racal played down his breakout offensive performance for Alaska on Friday night, saying he was focused on defense in the team’s 106-85 win over Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup.

The sophomore wingman, projected to be the Aces’ top stopper, registered a career-high 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line as he finally exploded offensively reminiscent of his time at Letran.

"Nag-execute lang kami ng mabuti sa offense at yung defense, nandoon pa rin,” Racal said. “Bonus na lang yung score, pero priority pa rin namin yung defense.”

“Kaya nanalo kami kasi pinagtrabahuan namin ng sama-sama,” he added after the Aces limited the Fuel Masters to 38-percent shooting.

[See K-Rac finally comes out of his shell as Alaska clinches quarterfinal berth]

Racal, who added six boards, three assists, and two steals in 37 minutes as a starter, credited part his individual defensive improvement to teammate Calvin Abueva after their numerous collisions in training.

“Sa practice, kami ang magkabantayan kaya ang laking tulong nun,” Racal said. “Tulad sa banggaan, ready ang katawan ko. Ang palitan naman namin, okay lang. Nandoon ako para tumulong sa depensa.”

Vic Manuel, another Aces banger, is grateful for Racal’s contributions on both ends.

“Laking bagay sa amin nun (opensa),” Manuel said. “Kahit sino naman sa amin kayang umiskor. Ang importante ay yung depensa na naibigay din nila.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos