ANTIPOLO – Noy Baclao and Jake Pascual were a reflection of how Alaska’s bench stepped up for the Aces in Game Three of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
Alaska outscored San Miguel, 71-32, in bench points and the two big men played a key role in winning that statistical category. The Aces went on to win, 125-104, on Friday night, extending the best-of-five series to a Game Four on Sunday.
Baclao had nine points and seven rebounds, doing it in 17 minutes of action. Pascual played in even lesser minutes as he had seven points and five rebounds in only 10 minutes of floor time.
“I felt like today was a total team effort,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “Guys like Abel Galliguez came off the bench and gave us great energy. Jake Pascual hasn’t played in this series, comes in, and gave us great energy. I was really impressed.”
Baclao played down his contributions for the Aces as it was the entire team who was responsible in Alaska making it to Game Four of the semifinals.
“Sa amin kasi, nasa wall na kami. Give it all na lang kasi last game na namin. Mas okay na maglaro lahat. Hindi lang naman ako. Lahat naman kami positive lahat sa stats namin,” said Baclao.
With Alaska leading 94-77 entering the fourth, Baclao was also part of a mix of second and third stringers who played a big bulk of the fourth quarter. That combination was able to maintain Alaska’s big lead en route to the win.
“Sa system ni coach Alex, kapag ginamit ka, kailangan mo i-sustain ‘yun. Ready naman kaming lahat,” said Baclao.
For his part, Pascual scored three points in that pivotal 12-0 run for Alaska that widened the gap to 45-35. Pascual was animated when he made a three-point play, and, although he failed to complete, that basket allowed the Aces to get a 40-35 lead in the second period. The lead grew when Galliguez made five straight points to widen the gap to 10.
Pascual, a former San Beda Red Lion, said he just comes in ready, waiting for his number to get called.
“Nagulat nga ako,” Pascual said about his performance. “Ready naman ako kung ano ang mako-contribute ko. ‘Yung energy, kapag energy kasi madadala mo rin sa teammates mo.”
Pascual said he and his fellow second and third stringers took it upon themselves to step up in the face of elimination with the Aces down 0-2 entering the contest.
“Usually sa practice, nadadala na lang namin sa game. Usually, kami sa third group, lagi kaming sinasabihan na be ready, kami ni Abel, Ronald (Pascual), Carl (Cruz). Sabi niya, go hard pa lang sa practice para masanay din with Sonny (Thoss) saka Diamon (Simpson).”
“Kailangan din namin magtulungan, either first five ka, second group, o third group, kasi we are down 0-2 kaya do-or-die na kami every game. Gagawin na namin ‘yung makakaya namin,” said Pascual.
Game Four will be played on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum where Baclao expects San Miguel to bounce back in a big way.
“Siguro, Game Four, most likely, mas paghahandaan namin lalo. Flat ‘yung start nila so mas focused sila. Dapat maging doble ‘yung gagawin namin,” Baclao said.