ALASKA aims to finally put the clamps on a rampant San Miguel Beer as two of the best teams in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup square off on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces seek to put a halt to the Beermen’s seven-game winning streak and fortify their bid for an outright semifinal berth as they face off in a rematch between two teams that faced off in two finals series last season.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. with the Aces, running second in a tie with Rain or Shine on 7-2 win-loss records, looking to move just a game behind the pace-setting Beermen, who have lost only once in their first 10 outings.
“San Miguel is the number one team in the league for a reason,” Aces coach Alex Compton said on Wednesday of the Beermen, powered by June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos. “They are well coached, talented, and deep.”
“They have too many weapons to mention, so our toughness, defense, and teamwork will have to be the best it has been yet this conference,” the American tactician added as he draws strength from a likewise balanced effort, led by Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel.
The Beermen and the Aces had been sharing the top spot since the start of the season-opening conference, before SMB gained some separation following a rout of Talk ‘N Text last Saturday and Alaska’s 111-105 loss to the Elasto Painters last Friday.
While the Beemen look to finish the eliminations and head into the postseason on a strong note, the Aces seek to remain in the running for a Top Two berth that entails automatic entry into the Final Four. A loss will force Alaska to settle for the third seed and a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.
“Kailangan ma-match namin yung intensity nila,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said. “It’s a must win for them, so we have to be ready.”
“If we will play like (we did against TNT) and the players remain focused, I think we have a good chance of winning against them,” he added of the Aces, who face Barako Bull in their final game of the regular season.
ROS has a relatively lighter schedule than Alaska, facing bottom-ranked Meralco in the opener of the double-header at 4:15 p.m., before finishing the eliminations against NLEX on Saturday.