Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Barako Bull vs NLEX
7 p.m. – Alaska vs Ginebra
Manila, Philippines – The magic number for Alaska to make the semifinals outright is 10 wins, and with two games left on its schedule, the surprising Aces are all focused to attain that goal in the PBA Philippine Cup.
However, their remaining two games are not against patsy opponents as the Aces are up against teams hoping to improve their own playoff bids.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel takes a shot at Alaska today at the Mall of Asia Arena at 7 p.m., right after the 4:15 p.m. encounter of newcomer North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Barako Bull.
Alaska is tied with San Miguel Beer at the top with similar 8-1 cards, while at solo third is Rain or Shine, which improved to 7-2 after it extending its win streak to five games with an 83-74 victory against Grand Slam champion Purefoods Star last Sunday.
The win by the Elasto Painters kept the Yeng Guiao-mentored team in the mix for automatic semifinal berth, which will be given to the top two squads after the single round robin elimination.
After playing Ginebra, Alaska’s last game is against Rain or Shine on Friday.
For now, though, the focus of Alaska is its match up with Ginebra, a team out to break a three-game losing skid after a stunning 21-point loss (98-77) opposite an inspired Globalport under interim coach Eric Gonzales last Sunday.
“That’s our focus, our game with Ginebra,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “We know they are on a losing streak but we know what they are capable of doing. We have to come out strong.”
Alaska is fresh from a 90-84 win against NLEX last Friday, the Aces’ second consecutive win after losing for the first time this conference versus Barako Bull last Nov. 19 following a 6-0 start.
Ginebra currently has a 5-4 slate – tied with Purefoods for fifth and sixth places. Already out in the race for outright semifinals slot, the Kings are eyeing a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinal playoffs.
Teams that will finish between third to sixth places will earn that bonus opposite the seventh to 10th qualifiers in the knockout stage. Aside from playing Alaska, the Kings will play the Painters on Sunday for their final game. (Waylon Galvez)