WITH the top slot and twice-to-beat edge secured, Luigi Trillo hinted Alaska may use its final elimination-round match against also-ran Globalport on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to give bench players the confidence ahead of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
“It will give us the opportunity for some guys to be ready for the playoffs and try some new things," Trillo said. "Good thing is, we took care of business now so we can give some playing time for guys well deserving, at the same time, we don’t have to punish some wounded warriors."
The Aces (10-3), fresh from a 102-93 thumping of the Barangay Ginebra Kings on Wednesday, take on the woeful Batang Pier (2-10) in the curtain raiser at 5:15 p.m.
Despite missing starting point guard JV Casio and Sonny Thoss for several games due to various injuries, the Aces have gotten significant contributions from bench players like backup point guard RJ Jazul, rookie guard Raphael Reyes, and veterans Dondon Hontiveros and Gabby Espinas.
Although he intends to give his banged-up starters a break ahead of the playoffs, Trillo assured they will not be taking the Batang Pier lightly.
“Definitely, we will not lower our guard but play to our potential. Otherwise, we will set ourselves up for the fall if we lower our guard,” said the Alaska mentor.
Globalport has already kissed its playoff hopes goodbye following a 84-94 loss to Talk ’N Text on Saturday in Iloilo, but coach Junel Baculi wants his boys to simply end their last two games with a bang.
The Batang Pier began the conference with a lot of promise following the acquisition of big man Japeth Aguilar from Talk ’N Text for Rabeh Al-Hussaini and veteran guard Solomon Mercado from Meralco.
But ill-advised import changes during the course of the tournament sent the team reeling to nine straight defeats after a 2-1 start.
“Mahirap naman tanggapin na panghuli kami ngayon, pero ganun talaga sa ngayon. Di pa kasi kami solid. Kailangan pa ng familiarity. Sana mas gumanda ipapakita naming sa next conference,” said Globalport veteran shooting guard Gary David.