JUST two years ago, Alaska was in total disarray after being orphaned by the very man responsible for the success of the franchise.
Who would have thought the Aces are now just a win away from winning their 14th PBA championship.
Focus and inspired, Alaska goes for a sweep of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals against embattled Ginebra when Game Three of the title series is played Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is 7:30 p.m., with the Aces carrying with them a commanding 2-0 lead after winning the first two games of the series by an average of 15.5 points, whlle holding the Kings to 34.8 percent shooting (61-of-175).
Coach Luigi Trillo vows no let-up on the part of the Aces despite dominating the opposition in the first two games.
“We don’t want to look past our game. We just want to come out there and play. We have a firm game plan that is working and, until they figure that out, we need to keep working. Now they have to beat us three straight,” said Luigi Trillo, who’s also gunning for his first-ever PBA title as a full-pledged head coach.
The Aces have been nothing less than dominant in the mid-season conference after chalking up their 17th victory in 21 games following the 104-90 win in Game Two Friday night.
Alaska also improved to 6-1 overall against Barangay Ginebra this season, including 4-0 this conference as it zeroed in on the 14th championship in franchise history - and its first since Tim Cone left the team two years ago.
Despite the stellar numbers, Trillo expects the Kings to throw everything they’ve got in the hope of extending the series.
“The toughest thing to do is close out a team. It’s gonna be hard. But we’ve got to zone in. Kung bugbugin kami or hawakan lang kami, kakailanganin naming kunin sa tiyaga,” added the youthful Alaska mentor.
For Barangay Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua, the key to live another day is play sustained 48 minutes of basketball.
“Kailangan ma-sustain lang namin ang magandang simula namin. Kung di ma-sustain, mahihirapan kami,” said Chua. “Huwag lang din sila ma-disappoint, napagod na din kasi ang mga bata.”
Chua is also aware Ginebra import Vernon Macklin has been under the microscope for his seemingly anemic Finals performance.
But the Kings coach came to Macklin’s defense, saying Macklin has been playing through a thigh injury since the start of their semifinal series against Talk ‘N Text.
"Pinipilit lang niya maglaro since first game pa ng series namin sa Talk ‘N Text. Eh di mo naman pwedeng sisihi 'yung tao, kaya naman kami nandito dahil din sa kanya. Basta kami laban lang,” said the pony-tailed coach.