San Miguel Beermen tackle struggling Alaska Aces
MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer seeks to sustain a hot streak when the Beermen slug it out with the struggling defending champion Alaska Aces Saturday in a Petron Blaze Saturday Special game of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup in Biñan, Laguna.
Gametime is 5 p.m. at the 4,000-seat Alonte Sports Center, with the Beermen, the winners of their last three outings, listed as the slight favorites against an Alaska side that has lost three of its first five games.
Alaska won this championship last season by displaying near impeccable form, losing a total of just four games all conference long behind the leadership of Best Import awardee Rob Dozier.
But the Aces have played with just a shade of the efficiency they displayed in winning even with Dozier returning and continuing to play his heart out.
Local support is what Alaska would need against San Miguel, which is slowly getting cornerstone June Mar Fajardo back to 100 percent form while being reinforced by a formidable talent in Kevin Jones.
The only San Miguel loss came in Jones’ first game—which was three games into the conference—but after that, the Beermen have remained unbeaten especially with Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter also playing well.
“We’re nowhere near 100 percent,” active assistant coach Todd Purves said after the last San Miguel win, which came at the expense of Globalport, 109-92, last Monday.
“Right now, we just want to get our guys (physically) better. Some of them are playing hurt.”
Solomon Mercado, acquired by the Beermen from Globalport after giving up perennial all-star Alex Cabagnot, is also slowly rounding out to form after missing San Miguel’s first four games because of a groin injury.
Calvin Abueva has yet to play with the form that energized the Aces last season and won for him the Rookie of the Year award.
He will be needed Saturday, especially on the defensive end, as he can be assigned to shackle Santos or Lassiter.
Cyrus Baguio, JV Casio and Sonny Thoss are the other local Aces who would need to step up big as they make a final push to qualify for the playoffs in the upper half of the standings.
The Aces are just two full games behind third-running San Mig Coffee and they certainly cannot afford to lose again.
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