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PBA: Alaska places emphasis on defense

Blakely and Thiele

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. – Alaska vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs San Miguel Beer

Manila, Philippines – Alaska coach Luigi Trillo wants his players to amplify their defensive stance when the Aces go for their second win and the early lead against the Globalport Batang Pier today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite their big win over San Miguel Beer last Sunday, the Aces understand that they will be tested further in the season-ending conference, even in their 5:45 p.m. encounter with the Batang Pier.

“We still have to improve on a lot of things defensively,” said Trillo after Alaska’s 94-87 victory over San Miguel.

In that win, import Bil Walker came one assist shy of a triple-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, while center Sonny Thoss contributed 18 points and nine rebounds.

Alaska, which played its first game after failing to defend its Commissioner’s Cup title, also controlled the rebounding department, 56-45, despite battling a team powered by 6-foot-10 rookie center June Mar Fajardo, who collared a game-high 16 boards.

Last season’s Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva came off the bench with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Gabby Espinas finished with 10 points.

Trillo understands that Walker, who played for the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks in the NBA, must be the team’s defensive catalyst in hopes of producing another victory.

“(Bill) Walker again has to also help us with rebounding and defense. Without Robert Dozier (Alaska’s import in the Commissioner’s Cup) who use to cover for us defensively, we all have to be sharper and be more vigilant if we want to follow up on our first win of the season,” added Trillo.

Alaska will face a Globalport side that is aiming to rebound from an 89-71 loss to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last Tuesday despite getting 30 points from import Leroy Hickerson and 21 markers from Alex Cabagnot.

“Globalport is a very good transition team. So we have to play good defense on them,” said Trillo, who will rely on his other key players like JV Casio, Cyrus Baguio, RJ Jazul, Dondon Hontiveros and Vic Manuel.

Equally exciting is the 8 p.m. showdown between San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine, a team that sustained a 103-96 setback to Air21 minus coach Yeng Guiao due to a business trip abroad.

Guiao was expected to arrive Wednesday night and rejoin the Elasto Painters against the Beermen. Import AZ Reid will lead Rain or Shine with locals Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, Ryan Arana, Gabe Norwood and Chris Tiu backing him up.

Former NBA players Reggie Williams fired a conference best 42 points against Alaska, but it was only Fajardo who came through to back him up with 13 points as Marcio Lassiter finished with only eight points, Sol Mercado five, and reigning MVP Arwind Santos three with seven rebounds.

“We look forward to starting strong and being aggressive,” said San Miguel Beer mentor Biboy Ravanes, who shares the coaching duties with active consultant Todd Purves. “We have to instill our defensive principles for the entire 48 minutes. We’re expecting a tough game tomorrow since both teams are coming from a loss.”

Ravanes added: “They are tougher now especially with coach Yeng back. We’ll have to focus on better execution, and expect the locals to step up.”