ALASKA has managed to hold on to a share of the PBA Commissioner's Cup lead in the absence of guard JV Casio, but now its reign is under serious threat with Sonny Thoss a doubtful starter in the match against heavyweight Petron on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Casio will be out for the fourth straight game this conference due to a knee injury, while the 6-foot-7 Thoss - who already played limited minutes in the Aces' last outing against San Mig on Saturday - is in doubt due to a back problem, according to Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
“We’re sharp and I think we’re ready. But JV is out, because his knee swelled up again while Sonny’s got a back problem. He might try (to play), but I’m not gonna force things,” said Trillo.
Thoss may not be averaging solid numbers for Alaska, but Trillo said his role as the team's top stopper against imports makes him a valuable asset for the Aces in this mid-season conference.
Without the 31-year-old Thoss, the Alaska mentor will be counting on seldom-used 6’9” reserve center Samigue Eman, Gabby Espinas and veteran Nic Belasco to fill the void at the slot.
The three Alaska big men are expected to body up on Petron’s 6’10” rookie center June Mar Fajardo at the post. The freshman Petron center is enjoying his most productive stretch this conference, averaging 10.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in 21.6 minutes.
The match will be the first between the two teams since their March 8 encounter, which the Aces won, 83-73, but will be better remembered for the meltdown by Renaldo Balkman that led to his lifetime fan.
Balkman has since been replaced by Rodney White, who had an anemic debut makred by 12 points and seven rebounds in Petron's 85-93 overtime loss to Talk 'N Text last week.
Still, White said he doesn't intend to pile up the stats for Petron.
“The game is not all about me. We just need to play together. The game would come easy for me if they (Petron local players) don’t watch me and they know the ball can come to them,” said White, who was selected ninth overall by the Detroit Pistons during the 2001 NBA draft.
Victory will put Alaska (7-3) back in the solo lead, but a loss would allow Petron to gain a tie for first place with idle Rain or Shine at 7-3.