Aces tackle Road Warriors sans injured Abueva
Alaska and coach Alex Compton have gone through a lot in the last two PBA seasons, where the Aces had some measure of success and the biggest heartbreak in league history.
Today, the work to slay the ghost of the biggest collapse ever in the Philippine Cup Finals starts.
But the Aces will miss franchise player Calvin Abueva for the first couple of games, counting their debut against an NLEX crew that opens a new chapter in its life at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Abueva has a bruised quadriceps muscle and will be out in the 7 p.m. contest where Yeng Guiao makes his debut as the new Road Warriors’ head coach and start bringing a winning tradition to a team that has had very little success in the past.
“Calvin will be out and won’t be ready,” Compton told the Inquirer over the phone.
“If this was a Game 7, we will inject him with something so he could play.”
Alaska made a string of championship appearances in the last two seasons and fell short each time.
None was more painful than in the Finals here when the Aces zoomed to a 3-0 lead over San Miguel Beer only to fail to complete the job.
The Aces and Compton have moved on and have regained their status as perennial title contenders. But completing the moving on process would require them to get the job done for a change and snap a title drought that dates back to the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.
Abueva, a former Rookie of the Year, has been the most consistent force for Alaska on both ends. He won the Best Player of the Conference award in the Commissioner’s Cup and was a member of the Mythical First Team last season.
Alaska also unveils Brian Cruz, its pick in the Cadet Draft, and Compton believes that they have a gem of a player who can help carry on the Aces’ tradition together with Abueva.
“(Cruz) is good player, he fits our team, he’s a smart kid who wants to learn and plays hard,” Compton said. “But he’s a rookie and I don’t think anybody should put a ton of pressure on him.”
Guiao, meanwhile, is tasked to give NLEX its own identity and make the Road Warriors winners.
There’s no doubt that Guiao is one of the most colorful coaches in the history of the PBA—and one of the winningest. But he knows that he wouldn’t be able to do this overnight.
Mahindra and GlobalPort also make their debuts today, clashing in the 4:15 p.m. contest with the Batang Pier pinning their hopes anew on point guards Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle.
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