Petron Blaze, coming off five straight victories, battle an Alaska side that just saw its own five-game winning streak snap in tonight’s mainer of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations twin bill at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces struggled to their worst form two nights ago, bowing to San Mig Coffee, 68-75, but are out to get back into the groove when they lock horns with the Boosters in the 7:30 p.m. game.
Petron opened with a loss but has since played with the form befitting its powerhouse tag, running rings around its last five foes with the athletic and very talented Renaldo Balkman leading the way.
Alaska shot just over 35 percent and trailed behind by as many as 24 points in bowing to the Mixers.
Team personnel confided that the Aces had practiced poorly before the game against San Mig and it showed in their first setback in six games. The Mixers held them to just 11 third-quarter points.
Rain or Shine also seeks a fifth straight win earlier when the Elasto Painters clash with on-and-off Globalport in the 5:15 p.m. contest.
The Painters have won their last two games despite getting minimal output from import Bruno Sundov, who has struggled to stay away from fouls.
In a related development, Talk ‘N Text, the losing finalist to San Mig last season, has brought in Donnell Harvey in place of NBA veteran Keith Benson.
Harvey, who also came in as a replacement for three games here last season, will reinforce the Tropang Texters when they battle Barako Bull tomorrow in a Phoenix Fuel-presented road game at Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City.
Against Petron tonight, the Aces will be ranged against a team that, like the Mixers, is loaded in every position and has a talented import.
Balkman has been plugging all the holes in the Petron squad left by injuries to key men and plays big on both ends.
“If there’s a challenge in front of me, I just go ahead and face it,” Balkman said after the last Petron win, a 91-78 destruction of Barako Bull. “When I am on the court, that’s when I’m unbreakable.
“I play every game like it’s my last. I can be the shortest (among the imports), but I’ve got the biggest heart.”
Balkman will go up against Robert Dozier, who is expected to have his hands full inside the paint as the Boosters are also loaded with talented big men.