Aces battle Cone, Hotshots as PBA semis begin | Inquirer Sports

Aces battle Cone, Hotshots as PBA semis begin

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 12:40 AM July 01, 2015

pba semis schedTIM CONE going up against his former longtime team is always a compelling angle in any series.

What makes this one doubly interesting is the fact that Cone’s Star Hotshots are clinging to the last title they won in a Grand Slam feat last season while his former team, Alaska, is trying to blaze a new trail of success under a new mentor.

And that is what Alaska coach Alex Compton hopes to achieve starting today when the elimination-round topnotcher Aces battle the Hotshots in Game 1 of their best-of-five Final Four series in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

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All things point to a close fight, even though the Hotshots finished No. 5 in the eliminations and the Aces dropped just three games throughout the tournament.

Star, formerly San Mig Coffee and Purefoods, has won its last three series against Alaska with Cone at the helm.

This is the second straight conference, the third in the last five and the sixth in the last eight tournaments that Cone will be battling his former team.

Cone knows, though, that he will be facing a different team this time.

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“They are playing a really high level of basketball,” Cone said on Sunday night after surviving No. 4 Globalport in their KO match in the quarterfinals. “They’re playing at a really high level of defense and we’re going to have to be at our best defensively to compete with them.”

Alaska last won a title in 2013, when it ruled the Commissioner’s Cup with Robert Dozier as import.

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During that run, the Aces had their turn in ripping the Hotshots apart in the Final Four before sweeping Barangay Ginebra in the title series. That would stand as the last Alaska victory over Cone and Co. in a playoff series.

“For sure, we are going to have our hands full,” Compton said after personally scouting the Hotshots in their two quarterfinal matches against the Batang Pier. “Hopefully, we’re going to help them have their hands full, also.”

Romeo Travis will need to play more efficiently if Alaska wants to reverse the series trend against Star. The Hotshots, on the other hand, look to Marqus Blakely to help keep their mastery of the Aces.

Travis could pose as a match-up problem for the Star frontline because of his heft and his ability to hit long jumpers.

Compton, meanwhile, will have to find a man that can stop Blakely, who is good at playing from the outside going in.

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The locals would more or less cancel each other out with Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss, JV Casio, Dondon Hontiveros and Calvin Abueva pitted against Star’s James Yap and Peter June Simon, Joe Devance, Mark Barroca and Marc Pingris.

TAGS: Alaska Aces, Basketball, PBA, Sports, Star Hotshots, Tim Cone

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