February 24, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Aces bristling to bounce back

ALASKA stumbled big-time in its last game but coach Alex Compton gamely accepted all the blame.

“I didn’t do a good enough job of getting us mentally to that spot we talked about,” Compton said after his team’s 91-99 loss to Meralco last April 8 that cut short the Aces’ unbeaten start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

“I didn’t get us there. And we need to be there,” added Compton, referring to the sharp-edged mentality his charges need to maintain at all times.

The accusing finger, most probably Compton’s, would be pointed squarely on his players should they fail to again heed his words and put the lessons learned from that loss when they take on the Phoenix Fuel Masters today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

A win by Alaska will give it at least a continued hold of third while Phoenix is looking to snap out of a two-game slide highlighted by a blown 17-point lead and a 94-96 loss to defending champion Rain or Shine two Wednesdays ago.

TNT KaTropa guns for its fifth straight win and keep pace with Alaska when the Texters tangle with GlobalPort in the nightcap.

The Alaska-Phoenix matchup should be as gripping, with the Fuel Masters bristling to bounce back from the loss still gnawing at coach Ariel Vanguardia.

“Alaska is known to be a defensive-minded team but they foul a lot, too,” said Vanguardia. “I hope we can get away with some let-go calls the same way they let them play. Offensively, we’ve got to be patient and execute as a team.”

“Phoenix is a better team than their record indicates,” said Compton.

“I thought they were excellent for most of the Rain or Shine game and Rain or Shine just had a great rally at the end,” added Compton, while pointing out Phoenix’s array of potent weapons.

“(Jameel) McKay is such an active, aggressive player who really uses his length to his advantage. And Cyrus (Baguio), RJ (Jazul), (Matthew) Wright and JC (Intal) are all playmakers who can both score and create for their teammates,” noted Compton. 

The long-limbed McKay has been averaging 23.5 points and 18.3 while Baguio, Jazul, Wright and Intal combine for almost 40 points and more than 14 assists per game.

“We will really have to be consistent in guarding them and keeping McKay from absolutely dominating the glass if we want to win this game.”

With averages of a tournament-high 31.8 points on top of 13.2 rebounds Cory Jefferson is again expected to lead the Aces’ charge with chief support coming from Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Jayvee Casio and Kevin Racal.

The evening match features two teams on a high.

GlobalPort’s confidence got an enormous boost following a breakthrough 85-82 win over NLEX last week in a game where Stanley Pringle and Malcolm White came up with the clutch points after Terrence Romeo exited the game due to cramps. Coach Franz Pumaren also missed the game due to illness.

With Pumaren and Romeo back in harness, TNT coach Nash Racela knows they are in for a long night.

“We need our best effort defending two of the most explosive guards in the league,” said Racela, referring to Romeo and Pringle who usually hook up for almost 40 points and 10 assists a game. 

“Limiting their production will give us a better chance of winning,” added Racela.

White should also be a concern since he averages 28.5 points, 16.5 rebounds and four blocks in two games he has played since coming in as replacement for Sean Williams.

Racela, however, expects Donte Greene to neutralize White. Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy are also eyed to offset whatever Romeo and Pringle may come up with, while Ranidel de Ocampo and Troy Rosario are expected to provide the decisive frontline advantage.
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