IT’S a different beginning but hopefully the same ending for Alaska in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Import Rob Dozier can’t help but compare the way the Aces started their campaign in this year’s mid-season tournament to last year when they ran away with the championship.
Although the Aces turned back Air21, 88-78, on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, the win was only the second win in four games for the reigning title holder -- a far cry from last season when it won its first five games in the eliminations that set the stage for the franchise winning its first title in the post-Tim Cone era.
“Totally different,” Dozier admitted. “Last season everybody had their confidence going. Right now, we’re going through a little adversity.”
“Things like this are only going to build our character, gonna make us stronger, and make us better,” the American recruit added.
What’s also different this year is the shorter schedule, which makes each game tougher for the Aces.
“But we still got high hopes,” Dozier said. “We’re gonna look to at least finish with five or six wins. Try to finish as strong as possible.”
Last year’s Best Import made sure the Aces snapped their two-game skid at the expense of the Aces when he tallied 23 points, including eight in the final frame where the defending champions turned the game around with an improved defensive effort.
Dozier, who also scattered nine boards, four blocks, and two assists, particularly shackled Air21counterpart Herve Lamizana, who finished with just 16 points (on 4-of-14 shooting), including just two in the fourth quarter.
But the former Miami Heat draftee is far from satisfied of his own performance.
“You always feel you can do better, no matter what kind of game. I’m playing just okay right now,” the 28-year-old power forward said. “The main thing for us is getting everybody to play good collectively and it’s gonna make a big difference for us.”