Manila, Philippines – Just like its series last season, Alaska Coach Alex Compton expects the same intensity when the Aces meet the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a semifinal showdown in the PBA Philippine Cup starting this week at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
“I expect that to be a great series. They’re a tough team, and I think they match up well with us,” said Compton.
Alaska clinched a semifinal berth for the second straight conference under Compton’s watch since the American was appointed coach following the resignation of Luigi Trillo a few games into the Governors’ Cup last season.
Alaska, with a twice-to-beat incentive, earned a semifinal ticket with an 87-69 win over Meralco as Vic Manuel led the Aces with 17 points and nine boards last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In last season’s Governors’ Cup, Alaska took a 1-2 advantage on Rain or Shine in their best-of-five semifinal affair, only to lose the next two matches, including the do-or-die Game 5 (97-74).
In this all-Filipino conference, the Aces lost anew to the Elasto Painters in the elimination round (98-95) last Dec. 5 that eliminated Compton’s team in the race for two outright semifinal spots.
Instead, it was ROS – after beating Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (100-90) – that earned one of the automatic berths in the semifinals that gave them a nine-day rest going to the Final Four.
“I expect a really good series, like the game we had in the eliminations where it came down to the last play. Rain or Shine also knocked us out in semis. I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes to a deep series,” said Compton.
According to Alaska’s ‘do-it-all’ forward Calvin Abueva, they are actually more motivated in avenging that elimination round loss to ROS rather than the semifinals defeat last conference.
“Kasi yung semis last conference, wala tapos na yun e. Ito lang huling talo namin nakaka-hinayang kasi outright semis sana kami,” said Abueva, who will be the target anew of Rain or Shine’s defense as he leads Alaska with 15.46 points and 12.23 rebounds per game.