THE PBA All-Star break should by now have cooled down the simmering emotions of the Commissioner's Cup semifinal series between Alaska and San Mig Coffee, right?
Luigi Trillo doesn't think so.
The young Alaska coach expects no less than a rugged, highly emotional match no different from the first two games of the best-of-five series when the Aces and the Mixers face off in Game Three at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I expect the game to be more physical," said Trillo. "Of course, we just have to understand they are well-rested. So again, like what I keep telling my players, we have to raise our level of play.”
Alaska's 86-67 win in Game Two on Monday night - its first after nine straight losses to San Mig and former coach Tim Cone - had been so heated it ended with a war of words between James Yap and Calvin Abueva, with Yap's San Mig teammate Marc Pingris soon jumping into the fray.
Ironically, Trillo coached both Abueva and Yap in last Sunday's All-Star game against Gilas Pilipinas, and he doesn't expect his sensational rookie to back down when the two become protagonists again on Wednesday.
“Calvin does so many things for us," Trillo said. "James obviously, likes to take the big shot, but Calvin won’t back down because he doesn’t mind doing the dirty work.”
Robert Dozier, a strong candidate for the Best Import award, was at the forefront of Alaska’s 19-point Game Two blowout, finishing with a PBA career-best 28 points and a new season-high 27 rebounds in a game where the Aces led from start to finish.
Cone, looking for a second successive Commissioner's Cup title for San Mig, said the Mixers can’t afford to let the Aces get off to a fast just like in Game Two.
He also admitted Alaska did a good job of clogging the lane and making it difficult for reigning best import Denzel Bowles, who was the hero of San Mig's 81-79 win in Game One but was held to a personal-low of eight points on 4-of-12 shooting in Game Two.
“They pushed the ball well from the very start (in Game Two), while we didn’t get back well,” said Cone. “Their (Aces) energy was higher than ours. Obviously, we needed more ball movement because we were selfish at times.”