Aces seek 3rd straight winBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Alaska, with Calvin “The Beast” Abueva energizing the Aces, shoots for a third straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations when it battles Air21 at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
With Abueva finally joining the lineup after finishing his collegiate commitments, the Aces have suddenly looked fearsome again and are again tagged as the favorites in the 5:15 p.m. contest.
And while the 6-foot-1 Abueva, who debuted with 12 points and 16 rebounds last week, is expected to hug the spotlight in the first game, Petron Blaze will be the center of attention in the 7:30 p.m. match against Globalport.
The Boosters, with a lackluster 2-3 record, have ditched Serbian consultant Rajko Toroman, leaving former star point guard Olsen Racela at the helm in their effort to notch their first winning streak of the tournament.
Sources bared Wednesday night that management had decided to yank Toroman out of the Petron bench and leave everything to Racela after the duo had shared coaching chores in the first five games.
La Salle coach Gee Abanilla will assume the role of Racela’s chief assistant.
The Boosters are installed as the solid picks against the Batang Pier mainly because of a superstar-laden lineup that has so far underachieved in the first month of the new season.
Jay Washington, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Lutz will be the main men for the Boosters, who bowed out of the semifinals here last season despite having a 3-1 lead over eventual champion Talk ‘N Text.
Petron will get a boost with wingman Marcio Lassiter, who hasn’t seen action with the team since getting shipped from Powerade (now Globalport), expected to return.
Willie Miller, the former two-time MVP, will again lead the Batang Pier, the newcomers who have made heads turn but have fallen short several times in the endgame.
Abueva was thrust into the limelight for the first time against Petron, and the former San Sebastian ace in the NCAA more than held his own against the Boosters’ big men.
Coach Luigi Trillo couldn’t stop heaping praises on his prized rookie after that game.
“He just energized the entire team,” Trillo said. “That is the role that he will be playing for this team.”
Abueva also has the ability to share the ball with his more established teammates.
Cyrus Baguio still shot 21 points and remained the first option in offense.