THE Alaska Aces are safely in the semifinals, well rested, and ready to “face their fears.”
Luigi Trillo once again faces the prospect of taking on bogeyman Tim Cone, and the young Aces head coach and longtime Cone deputy vowed to be ready this time.
San Mig Coffee and Meralco battle on Wednesday for the last berth in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to a best-of-five series against the Aces.
Alaska took care of the only other team to beat them this conference, disposing of Air21 in the quarterfinals.
Now San Mig, which has won over Alaska twice in this conference alone, looms in the horizon.
Overall, the Mixers have won their last eight contests against the Aces since Cone left Alaska to coach San Mig (then known as B-Meg) at the start of last season.
“Obviously, San Mig has had our number (and) they say, you face your fears. But if it comes to that (facing San Mig in the semis), it’s time to beat them and move forward,” Trillo said.
Trillo said the good thing now is they have had enough rest.
“I think what we have to do is just prepare. The nice thing with what we did now is guys are gonna be fresh,” he said. “I’m just kind of relieved we’ve got over Air21 because they are a dangerous team.”
If it is Meralco and not San Mig which the Aces end up facing in the semifinals, Trillo said they will not be complacent even if they hold a 4-1 edge over the Bolts this season.
“If it’s Meralco, we’re not taking them for granted as well,” he said, aware that Meralco’s high-scoring import Eric Dawson has raised his level of play of late.
“Eric Dawson is a scorer who can really dominate. He’s impressive because he seems to be taking charge now. He’s making his teammates believe and he’s carried them on his back,” observed the 37-year-old Alaska mentor, whose team ended the eliminations at 11-3, its best record in the post-Tim Cone era.