Alaska battles a dangerous Air21 side today, seeking to move farther away from the pack as the PBA Commissioner’s Cup enters the second half of its elimination-round schedule at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The Aces will have to contain Michael Dunigan in the 7:30 p.m. game in their quest to rise to 7-1, even as Meralco guns for a second straight win against powerhouse San Mig Coffee in the 5:15 p.m. contest.
A win would give the Aces more breathing room from Rain or Shine and Petron, the two squads clashing tomorrow in a Phoenix Fuel-presented road game in Panabo City where the Boosters will likely play without an import.
The Aces actually scored their most recent win against the Boosters. In that stunning game, Petron’s import Renaldo Balkman degenerated into an uncontrollable monster in the waning seconds, went berserk and even choked a teammate.
Balkman’s unsportsmanlike conduct led to his lifetime ban from the league.
Alaska has been playing full throttle because of an energetic import in Robert Dozier and a fired-up local crew.
Dunigan, meanwhile, is wreaking havoc inside the paint for the Express, who scored a 106-94 win over Globalport in their last outing. The bull-strong import came away with 35 points and 20 rebounds.
He will be Alaska’s biggest worry tonight, but Air21 is also wary of the Aces’ form.
“They are playing at a very high level,” Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said of the Aces, who opened up with five straight wins before losing narrowly to Talk ‘N Text two weeks ago and barely failing to match their best start since 2009.
Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros, Sonny Thoss, rookie Calvin Abueva and JV Casio are the Aces’ top locals.
Mike Cortez will quarterback for the Express as usual with Mark Isip and KG Canaleta expected to play key supporting roles to Dunigan. Dunigan averaged a hefty 37.5 points in his last two games.
San Mig, the defending champion, will be coming off an 88-96 loss to Barangay Ginebra.
Denzel Bowles and two-time MVP James Yap will be the focal points of the Mixers’ offense.