WITH momentum on its side, Alaska Milk shoots for a fourth straight victory when it plays slumping Barangay Ginebra Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces are looking to extend their win streak in the 6:30 p.m. encounter, and at the same time, stretch the Kings’ losing skein this conference.
The game marks the first time Barangay Ginebra starting point guard LA Tenorio will be facing Alaska, his former team the past four years until the Aces shipped him to the Kings during the off-season.
Tenorio said it feels good to be playing with a team that is fully backed by an ever-supportive crowd, something that inspires him to play even better.
And he hopes their game against the streaking Aces will be used by the Kings (2-3) as an opportunity to regain their sagging confidence after losing their last three outings after opening the season with back-to-back victories.
Tenorio said losing this early in the tournament has its own upside.
“We’re not happy with the loss. That’s for sure. But the positive thing from these (losses), may mga lessons kaming matututunan. Siyempre, may kasabihan nga na di naman araw-araw Pasko. We have to improve on our execution also,” noted the 28-year-old Tenorio.
Alaska currently shares third place with idle Meralco with a 3-2 (win-loss) slate. The Aces have been playing outstanding basketball as of late, whipping Barako Bull (102-86),Petron Blaze (88-86), and only last Friday, Air21 (92-81) .
Aces coach Luigi Trillo said they are blessed to have no. 2 rookie pick Calvin Abueva at this juncture because the 6-foot-1 San Sebastian Stag has been providing the energy on the floor for the team.
Proof of that is the rookie’s double-double performance during his first two games this season – 12 points and 16 boards against Petron, before finishing with 16 and 12 rebounds against Air21.
Trillo said Abueva’s versatility allows the Aces to create some matchup problem since the former NCAA Most Valuable Player can play the two-guard or swing position with relative ease.
In the first game, Barako Bull (2-3) tries to extend the misery of San Mig Coffee (2-2) in their 4:15 p.m. encounter.
Barako Bull center Enrico Villanueva said even though the Mixers have the size advantage and the championship experience, they can compete head on with the Tim Cone-mentored team as long as the Energy Cola take good care of the basketball.
“If you have a chance to win it, then you have to grab the opportunity and win it. We have to take care of the ball, that’s what we need,” Villanueva said, whose team has been on a roller coaster ride of late.
The Energy Cola nearly pulled the rug from under two-time reigning champion Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, but turnovers late in the game led to their 76-79 down fall.
“They (Mixers) are a tough team. But if we get that win against San Mig, it will boost our confidence and other teams will get to respect us also…Siguro kahit sabihin natin na they are bigger and stronger, as long as we follow our game plan, it doesn’t matter,” added Villanueva, who led the Energy Cola with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in their loss to the Tropang Texters on Wednesday.
The Mixers (2-2) had been slowed down by injuries and some inconsistencies the past games.
Marc Pingris is still a doubtful starter due to an ankle injury, while JC Intal has yet to see action this season after suffering a meniscal tear in his left foot, which has sidelined the former Ateneo Blue Eagle for almost 4 months.
Joe Devance is expected to play against Barako Bull after skipping the game against Rain or Shine on Wednesday due to fever.