ALASKA and Petron Blaze try to bounce back from heart-rending losses when they clash today in a game that could influence the race for the top two berths in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces will actually be gunning for a repeat over the Boosters in the 7:30 p.m. contest. If they are successful, the Aces would take over solo leadership heading into the Holy Week break—just two games short of the hypothetical number of wins needed to clinch a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.
A loss by Alaska would drop the Aces to solo third while giving Petron a share of the lead with Rain or Shine at 7-3.
Several coaches believe that the magic number for a top two berth—and the twice-to-beat bonus—would be 10 wins.
While Petron and Alaska are jockeying for prime positions in the playoffs, Globalport is looking to simply stay alive.
With seven straight losses in a tail-ending 2-8 card, the Batang Pier need a win over Meralco in the 5:15 p.m. game to avoid getting the curtains early. Another loss would drop the Batang Pier behind the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Alaska-Petron duel marks the first meeting between the two squads since the celebrated Renaldo Balkman meltdown.
The Aces defeated the Boosters, 83-73, the first time they met and held Balkman to just six points. Balkman lost his cool in the end after a non-call, chased referees and choked teammate Arwind Santos when the latter tried to pacify him.
Balkman was slapped a P250,000 fine and banned for life from the PBA. He was replaced by Rodney White, who had a poor debut in a loss to Talk ‘N Text, which held Petron scoreless in overtime in a 93-85 come-from-behind victory.
White had 12 points in 31 minutes of action
Robert Dozier, rookie Calvin Abueva and veteran Cyrus Baguio will lead Alaska in the expected absence of Sonny Thoss and JV Casio due to injuries.