Jake Pascual, second stringers get chance to step up with Alaska starters out
MANILA, Philippines—Jake Pascual is well aware of the pinch Alaska is in right now without four of its vital players all recovering from different injuries, but that is just the life for a PBA team that is going on a yearly grind.
The Aces qualified for the playoffs in all three conferences in the previous seasons reaching the quarterfinals, semifinals, and then the finals in chronological order and this tough schedule had left some battered bodies along the way.
Vic Manuel, Kevin Racal, JVee Casio, and Simon Enciso are all sidelined and Pascual said the ones they can rely on are themselves.
Pascual and the rest of the Aces did practice what they preached when they blindsided Columbian 94-72 to get their first win in the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We were actually joking around earlier because we’re this undermanned right now but in all seriousness, we can only rely on ourselves at this point,” said Pascual in Filipino as they get to a 1-1 record.
“We take it as a challenge especially for us big men who usually come off the bench and sometimes wouldn’t even get the minutes. We’re just proving to everyone that we can play and we can help the team.”
Pascual made his mark in the Aces’ win over the Dyip with a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double in a game that he said he had to step up in a big way.
Alaska also lost rookie G-Boy Babilonia, who got hurt in practice, leaving the Aces’ big man rotation to Pascual, Carl Bryan Cruz, Noy Baclao, and the 37-year-old Sonny Thoss.
“We’re still adjusting and of course we admit that it’s hard without Vic because he’s the no.1 option inside and he also has some outside shooting,” said Pascual of Manuel who averaged 16 points per game in the previous season.
“Coach Alex [Compton] told us that whoever was sitting beside us on the bench was the one that will help us.”
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