AFTER seizing the momentum with a Game One victory, Alaska now goes for the jugular against San Mig Super Coffee on Wednesday in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces leaned on a strong fourth-quarter assault to draw first blood in their mini-playoff series, 86-77 but coach Luigi Trillo is bracing for scrap in the 5:45 game, knowing the veteran-laden Mixers are capable of bouncing back, given their championship pedigree and size.
“That’s just one game,” Trillo said. “It’s (Game Two) gonna be harder. They are the back-to-back champions. And obviously, we’re worried about the big lineup they (Mixers) have because they’ve gone away from the conventional lineup.”
The Mixers crashed the boards en route to a 51-45 rebounding edge, including a huge 25-14 lead in offensive rebounds. With import James Mays grabbing seven offensive rebounds, San Mig also earned a 16-6 advantage on second chance points.
Only a strong defensive stand late in the final period saved Alaska in the series opener.
Aside from rebounding, Trillo pointed out that Alaska needs to improve on its overall defensive effort to outlast a San Mig squad that is bidding to forge a winner-take-all match on Friday.
On the other hand, San Mig coach Tim Cone admitted that the Game One makes their job a lot harder now, though he remains confident the Mixers have enough fight left in them.
“You’d always like to get that first game in a short series, but now we have to do it the hard way,” Cone said. “Our guys are never afraid of reaching deep to find a way to win.”
San Mig playmaker Mark Barroca agreed, saying they only need to bring their A-game to snatch the momentum from the Aces.
“Kapag nakuha namin 'yung isa, naniniwala ako ang momentum mapupunta sa amin,” said Barroca, the Philippine Cup Finals MVP.