FOR Ato Agustin, this is what earning the top seeding in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup is all about.
Barangay Ginebra’s campaign in the All-Filipino conference comes down to a do-or-die game against Alaska Saturday for the right to advance in the semifinals.
Game time is at 4 p.m. at the Astrodome where the Kings have not lost in seven straight games since 2011, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.
They Said It!
“We have a golden opportunity on Saturday to do something special. We just need to be focused." - Alaska Aces coach Luigi Trillo
The Aces made the win-or-go-home encounter possible after a gigantic 104-97 upset of the twice-to-beat Kings in their first encounter in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.
A loss for the Kings would indeed be a huge letdown, considering what the team was able to establish in the double-round eliminations where it finished as the no.1 seed with an 11-3 (win-loss) record.
“Kailangang kailangan yung willingness ng mga players to match against Alaska dahil aggressive sila eh,” Agustin said on the eve of the team’s match against the Aces.
The shorter Alaska frontline successfully battled Ginebra’s bigger frontline of Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Jay-R Reyes, and Billy Mamaril as the Aces held a 48-46 rebounding edge.
Its back against the wall, the Aces fought the Kings with ferocity and drew inspiration from undersized power forward Calvin Abueva, who banged in 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help Alaska avoid outright elimination.
Agustin said for the Kings to survive the Aces, they need to control Abueva’s energy, who the Ginebra coach admitted played a big role for Alaska to secure its third win in four days.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila eh, don’t worry about that (Abueva’s antics), but what we need to do is focus on our game plan and box out,” he added.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said the notion of achieving a piece of playoff history could be a strong motivating factor for the Aces as they try to become just the fourth eight seeded team to topple a no. 1 seed squad in the playoffs.
“You wanna hopefully close it out on Saturday but we know it will be very, very, very hard,” Trillo said.
“It’s just one game (Alaska won) right now, but we have a golden opportunity on Saturday to do something special. We just need to be focused.”
Incidentally, Ginebra was the first eight seeded team to oust a top seeded ballclub when it beat Asi Taulava and Mobiline (now Talk ‘N Text) in the 1999 All-Filipino Cup playoffs.
San Miguel Beer also did the trick against Talk ‘N’ Text in the 2002 Governors Cup, and just recently, Powerade pulled off the similar stunning feat when it ousted B-Meg (San Mig) in the 2011-12 Philippine Cup.