DESPITE smashing Alaska by 34 points in the opener of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series, Purefoods coach Tim Cone is bracing for a strong fightback by the Aces in Sunday’s Game Two at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots were in form during Game One, shooting a scorching 61 percent from the field on the way to a resounding 120-86 victory.
Still, Cone, a keen observer of the Aces ever since he left the franchise in 2012, believes Alaska’s ‘bounce-back’ ability is something the defending champion needs to be wary of.
“Their (Aces) bounce back-ability is very high, and for them, for sure they’re gonna use this (big loss) as a motivation,” said Cone, whose team tries to deal the knockout blow against Alaska in their 3 p.m. match.
The Hotshots are actually looking to make a return trip to the semifinals since getting unceremoniously booted out in the quarterfinals by Meralco in the Philippine Cup.
With so many weapons at his disposal, the Hotsshots are the heavy favorites to repeat over Alaska despite forward Calvin Abueva guaranteeing the Aces would take Game Two.
Import Denzel Bowles led the Hotshots’ balanced attack in Game One with 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in just 22 minutes of work, before resting for majority of the game.
Five other local players scored in double figures for the Hotshots led by James Yap, who banged in 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Mark Barroca added 14.
Meantime, Alaska coach Alex Compton admitted his team got its behind kicked soundly by Purefoods after struggling to score under the Hotshots’ solid defense.
“They just shot the lights out. We just had some defensive breakdowns. And they really stuck it (defensively) to us,” said Compton, whose team entered the quarterfinals as the sixth seed.
The Alaska mentor believes Purefoods’ resounding performance is its way of sending a strong message the road to the Commissioner’s Cup championship goes through them.
“I would say they (Hotshots) put the rest of the league on notice today.”
Banged up import Damion James (calf) and Abueva (ankle) are expected to play in their bid to force a winner-take-all match on Tuesday.