by Waylon Galvez
Game Today (Astrodome, Pasay City)
3:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs Alaska
Manila, Philippines – History seems to favor top seed Barangay Ginebra in its do-or-die duel with eight-seed Alaska today in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup playoffs at the Astrodome.
The Aces scored a 104-97 win against the Kings Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, pushing Ginebra’s back against the wall and turning today’s Petron Saturday Special encounter into a knockout match.
But the past doesn’t favor Alaska, which is 0-5 against twice-to-beat foes in the playoffs although in the PBA’s history, four teams — including Mobiline (now Talk ‘N Text) and Ginebra — have managed to pull it off.
Alaska is actually on a three-game streak following wins against Barako Bull that earned them a playoff for the No. 8 quarterfinal spot and Meralco in the do-or-die game that propelled the Aces to the playoffs against No. 1 Ginebra.
Momentum is definitely on the Alaska side after that victory against Ginebra, which saw the Aces nail 12-of-20 three pointers, including five from veteran guard Dondon Hontiveros, who scored 18 points. Cyrus Baguio also had 18 points, while Jvee Casio and Calvin Abueva added 16 points apiece.
The 6-foot-2 Abueva, the Rookie of the Year last season, was one of three Alaska players to collect double-double as he also collared 11 rebounds off the bench, while Sonny Thoss had 13 points and 10 boards, and Gabby Espinas added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Abueva was actually listed doubtful prior to the previous game because of a sprained left ankle, but when inserted to the game, he was like a man possessed as he outhustled even the ‘Twin Towers’ of Ginebra, 6-foot-10 Japeth Aguilar and 7-foot rookie Greg Slaughter.
Although his team won the game, Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo was quick to downplay the momentum factor, knowing that Ginebra – with its talented unit that also includes former MVPs Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand, and LA Tenorio – is very much capable of staging a comeback.
“I don’t want to feel satisfied. It was just one game,” said Trillo.
“It’s beyond coaching at this point. Ginebra didn’t have rhythm, they have a long off… but at this point I think it’s 50-50. Ginebra will be motivated but we’ll be ready for that do-or-die game,” added Trillo.
As for Ginebra, since the PBA implemented and game top teams after the eliminations twice-to-beat advantages, this marked just the first time for the team to earn the said incentive as the Kings were the underdogs 11 times facing teams with a playoff bonus.