The first time Alaska and Rain or Shine clashed in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, they were of equal standing: 0-0 to be exact.
What happened in that game was a classic, as the Aces scored five points inside the final 24 seconds to steal an 83-81 victory and touch off a five-game streak that up until now has kept Alaska owning at least a piece of the elimination round lead.
Today, the Elasto Painters and the Aces lock horns again at 7:30 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum again with equal standing. Only this time, the stakes are higher.
No. 1 ranking in the playoffs could end up as the ultimate prize for the winner as the Painters try to exact sweet revenge on the Aces, who completed that comeback last Feb. 9.
“We can’t help but think of our first game, we felt that we should have been the winner,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said. “(But) whatever we say, we still lost, and this is the best time to prove to ourselves that we won that game.”
Both are tied for the lead at 8-3, almost two games ahead of third-running Petron Blaze. That means the winner will get the inside track on No. 1 spot that carries a huge advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
No wonder Alaska coach Luigi Trillo has his eyes fixed on a repeat.
“We want to prove that our win against them was no accident,” Trillo said. “The top two is within sight for us.”
The Boosters, meanwhile, will unveil a new import in Henry Sims, a former Georgetown Hoya who flew in Wednesday night from the United States to replace the unimpressive Rodney White, against Meralco in the 5:15 p.m. game.
Sims will be the third import for the Boosters here after White and Renaldo Balkman, who was banned for life after losing his cool and choking teammate Arwind Santos in a loss to Alaska.
Meralco is at 5-5 and could seal a playoff slot with a victory.