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PBA: Alaska seeks 2-0 lead

Alaska's Calvin Abueva tries to steal one over ROS Gabe Norwood.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Alaska

Manila, Philippines – Alaska showed it can compete with Rain or Shine, but coach Alex Compton won’t give much thought on their opening win in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.

Compton said it’s a long way to go – four wins to be exact – before they reach the finals.

Alaska tries to move closer from achieving that when it aims for a second straight victory against Rain or Shine today at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

The ROS versus Alaska game is set at 7 p.m.

“Rain or Shine beat us up a little bit, so getting that confidence win, and the guys came back, it’s good for us,” said Compton, who is in his second conference as coach of Alaska.

“This first win gives us the knowledge that we can beat them (Painters), and it also means that we had some lessons to learn. I know they will be back ready to play on Saturday,” added Compton.

Compton’s team took Game 1, 87-80, to end a three-game losing skid versus ROS, which dates back to the Governors’ Cup semifinals last season when Alaska, despite holding a 2-1 lead in a five-game affair, was eliminated.

Rain or Shine continued its mastery on Alaska with a 98-95 victory in their lone elimination round encounter last Dec. 5, and the Painters were actually on their way to continuing that path when it led by as many 17 points (34-17) early in the second period.

The combined efforts of JVee Casio, Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva and RJ Jazul, the Aces rallied back to close the gap, and in the final six minutes of the game, unleashed a 12-0 run that turned a 73-77 deficit to 85-77 lead with less than two minutes to play.

Thoss and Casio led the Aces with 16 points apiece, while Abueva, a strong contender for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC), added 14 and 14 rebounds, and Jazul chipped in 12 markers.

Despite the setback, ROS mentor Yeng Guiao remains upbeat going to Game 2 but mentioned that the Painters have to sustain the aggressiveness they displayed in the first half, to limit their turnovers and fight for rebounds.

“We had a good start, we had a good lead and we followed the game plan. But we could not sustain it,” said Guiao. “So we have to keep up the tempo, keep it fast, play defense, and lessen our turnovers.”

Guiao pointed to his team’s average of 13 turnovers in the elimination round, but they committed 19 in Game 1 – most of which came in the fourth quarter when the Aces made a run. Alaska scored a total of 23 turnover points.

Rain or Shine ended up shooting better from the field, converting 31-of-78 (40%) compered to Alaska’s 34-of-88 (39%), and Guiao likes the team defense of his team except in the fourth period.

Jeff Chan led ROS with 17 points, while Beau Belga added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

A letdown in Game 1, however, was the team’s top scorer in the elimination round, Paul Lee, who came into the series averaging 14.5 points per game but was limited to seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.