Aces take on Tigers, eye end of four-game slump
By Musong R. Castillo
MANILA—Alaska, listed as a favorite at the start, tries to snap a four-game losing streak and climb back into the upper half of the standings Wednesday when the Aces battle unpredictable Powerade in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces have barely kept their collective heads above water ever since winning their first three games, losing their last two outings by an average of 11 points to share fourth to seventh spots with a 3-4 card.
Their last loss came in a road game against newcomer Meralco, which played without leading scorer Mac Cardona.
Alaska-Powerade is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. right after walking wounded defending champion Derby Ace, coming off a swashbuckling upset of Talk ‘N Text last week, slugs it out with Air21 at 5 p.m.
Alaska’s current slide is its longest since being swept by the Llamados in the Finals here last year and the Aces will certainly not find the Tigers as easy customers with Powerade also showing that it can play defense.
The Tigers are now tied with the Aces and the Express, who will be coming off their worst loss of the tournament, an 81-107 shellacking absorbed at the hands of streaking crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra last Friday.
LA Tenorio, Cyrus Baguio and Joe Devance will be the key figures for Alaska, which was whipped by the B-Boys, 71-83, in Victorias City, while Powerade will be bannered by the high-scoring Gary David and a host of role players.
Air21, meanwhile, has had a rocky tournament thus far, playing great one night before turning ice cold the next, something which former national coach Yeng Guiao would have to address.
Rookies Nonoy Baclao and Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Ronjay Buenafe will lead the Express even as reigning MVP James Yap, Peter June Simon and reedy sophomore Rico Maierhofer continue to carry the fight for the Llamados.
Derby Ace will still be without big men Rafi Reavis, Marc Pingris and Kerby Raymundo.