By TITO S. TALAO
Games Today (Smart Araneta)
3 p.m. – Alaska vs Barako Bull
5:15 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Ginebra
Manila, Philippines – There would be a lot of crying over spilled milk if Alaska loses this do-or-die game against Barako Bull.
As things stand, the Aces, at 4-9 and 9th place, have their backs against the wall but still chart their own destiny. The Energy Cola, tied at 6th place with idle Meralco on 5-8 slates, could derail Alaska’s fate however.
Gametime is at 3 p.m. preceding the non-bearing game between league leader Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (11-2) and 4th running defending champion Talk ‘N Text (7-6) at 5:15 p.m.
The Kings clinched the first of two twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals by turning back Globalport, 108-92, last Friday. They will face the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
The Tropang Texters, on the other hand, chose to rest injured players Kelly Williams, Harvey Carey and Ryan Reyes in a 100-87 loss to San Mig Coffee, forsaking the battle in preparation for the war.
It’s likely the three will be sitting out the Ginebra game as well, with battered stars like Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo also getting healing time on the bench.
The Texters are expected to be back in full combat gear next week, however, when these two ballclubs kick off their best-of-3 playoff series.
The Kings, likewise, are expected to exploit the luxury to give their bench, including first round pick James Forrester, important minutes.
A second twice-to-beat incentive is up for dispute although No. 2 Rain or Shine (10-3) has all but wrapped up its claim on the prize.
There could be complications but that will depend on the outcome of yesterday’s Petron Saturday Special schedule at the Big Dome which was ongoing at presstime.
If No. 3 Petron (9-4) beats Meralco, which marks the first encounter between Boosters center June Mar Fajardo and his erstwhile tutor Danny Ildefonso, now with the Bolts, and ousted Air21 (3-10) upsets Rain or Shine, then a knockout would be played to determine the No. 2 seed.
A playoff would also be set to decide the No. 8 seed should ties arise as a consequence.
Barako edged Alaska, 97-93, last Nov. 24 after the Energy Cola torched the Aces for 17 three-point shots, with Ronjay Buenafe going 7 of 11, Keith Jensen 3 of 3, and Mick Pennisi 3 of 6. The Aces can’t afford to again be at the receiving end of Barako’s flamethrowers.
Ginebra, meanwhile, edged Talk ‘N Text, 97-95, in heart-stopping fashion on Dec. 8, with Japeth Aguilar hitting the game-winning 3-point shot with 1.1 seconds left and then blocking De Ocampo at the buzzer.