Alaska debuts vs Purefoods; Aces parade Covington
MANILA, Philippines—Less than two weeks removed from losing in an epic PBA title series, Alaska makes its Commissioner’s Cup debut against no less than defending champion Purefoods Tuesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
The Aces, who lost Game 7, 78-80, to the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Cup Finals, unveil DJ Covington in the 7 p.m. game against the Star Hotshots and the energetic Marqus Blakely.
Another side making its much-anticipated debut is NLEX which battles Rain or Shine in the 4:15 p.m. game. The Road Warriors’ Al Thornton boasts one of the most celebrated credentials by a reinforcement in years.
Thornton had a big NBA career highlighted by an All-Rookie team selection in 2007 in the company of superstar Kevin Durant.
Still, all eyes will be on the Aces, who lost what had looked like a won Game 7 against the Beermen. It would be interesting to see if Alaska can play the same high-octane game on both ends that took the squad so close to the Philippine Cup crown.
Covington also packs impressive credentials, finishing 24th in the US NCAA in scoring with 20.1 points per game in his senior season with the VMI Keydets last year while being named as the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013-2014.
He will be tested right away by Blakely, the two-time Best Import awardee who is the shortest in the lot at just over 6 feet 4.
Blakely is standing in for NBA veteran Daniel Orton, who still has to complete his contract in China.
Blakely will be coming into the game fresh from shooting 26 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking seven enemy shots last Friday against Globalport, which the Star Hotshots ripped, 83-70.
Meanwhile, because of the uncertain peace and order situation in Mindanao, the league has canceled an out-of-town game scheduled in Polomolok, South Cotabato, this Saturday. The Alaska-NLEX game will instead be played in a Metro Manila venue soon.
The PBA has also donated three basketball courts to typhoon-ravaged Leyte as part of its outreach program.
In a related development, a three-team trade involving big men is being cooked up with Jay-R Reyes of Barangay Ginebra set to join San Miguel. Dorian Peña will be shipped by Barako Bull to Ginebra, while San Miguel will send Justin Chua to Barako Bull.
Alaska, with Robert Dozier as import, won this conference against Ginebra two seasons ago via a sweep of best-of-five title series.
The Aces have made it at least to the Final Four in each of coach Alex Compton’s first two conferences at the helm. Despite being just a shade over 6-1, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva was the second leading rebounder in the Philippine Cup with just under 13 a game.