Alaska is just one win away from reaching the PBA Finals since the 2010 Fiesta Conference.
Aces coach Luigi Trillo believes the semifinal loss they experienced at the hands of eventual Philippine Cup champion Talk ‘N Text in the previous conference, somehow, prepared his boys for this momentous point in the post-Tim Cone era.
“You have to go to the stats. We’re getting better as a team and we have lessons learned,” Trillo said, recalling the heartbreaking losses the Aces suffered to the Mixers during their first three match ups before Alaska’s breakthrough Game Two win (86-67) and its first-back-to-back triumphs over San Mig Coffee in Game Three (89-82) last Wednesday.
The Aces have veterans holding the fort for the team – center Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio and Tony dela Cruz, who doesn’t complain even if he sees minimal minutes this season.
Energetic rookie Calvin Abueva is back in his “beast” mode as evident in his 24-point-10-rebound performance in Game Three that allowed Alaska to crawl back from a 16-point deficit, forge overtime and eventually winning the hotly-contested match.
San Mig coach Tim Cone was upfront when he said, “Bottom line is, we were outplayed and more importantly, (I was) outcoached in the last five minutes and overtime of the last game.”
Cone has not been getting anything much from superstar James Yap, who has been dealing with a nagging back problem for the last two weeks or so.
Denzel Bowles has not been that magnificent in the semis because of the Aces are doing a splendid job clogging the shaded lane where he normally likes to operate.
Come Saturday (May 11), I expect Game 4 both squads to scratch and claw their way to victory.
For the Mixers, it’s now or never.
But for the Aces, they have this rare opportunity to dethrone San Mig and make the trip to back to the Finals for the first time in the post-Tim Cone era.
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