(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Talk ’N Text
7 p.m. – Meralco vs Alaska
Already assured of a spot in the quarterfinals, Alaska aims to solidify its bid for outright semifinal berth and regain solo lead in the standings when it takes on a skidding Meralco side in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
At the moment, the Aces are tied with defending champion San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine all with 6-1 cards.
Now that it has clinched a spot in the playoffs, Alaska – a team that has won its previous three assignments – hopes to achieve the next important thing and that is an automatic semifinal spot.
The conference format will give the top two finishers after the elimination round automatic semifinal spots, while the third to sixth placers will earn twice-to-beat incentives against the seventh to 10th finishers in the crossover quarterfinal playoffs.
The four survivors in the crossover round will advance in the best-of-three showdown, with the winning teams moving to the best-of-seven in the semifinals against the top two squads.
The bottom two after the elimination round will be eliminated automatically.
The game between Alaska and Meralco is set at 7 p.m., right after the 4:15 match pitting Talk ’N Text and Barako Bull.
Since losing to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last Nov. 7 in Dubai, Alaska won three in a row by beating Globalport, the Star Hotshots and NLEX.
With the struggles Meralco is having this conference – as the Bolts dropped their last two games to fall deep in the cellar with a 1-7 record – Alaska is highly-favored to extend its win streak to four.
However, the last thing Alaska coach Alex Compton wants his players is to think that it will be an ‘easy’ game.
“We can’t do that, we can’t have that feeling (entering the game),” said Compton.
“It may put us in a bad spot. We just have to stay focused on the things we do, play hard on defense and execute our offensive game plan. Meralco is a dangerous team… their record is not a reflection of how dangerous this team is, and they’re well-coached (Norman Black),” added Compton.
Alaska will rely anew Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva – a pair of energetic forwards who lead the team in points and rebounds with the former averaging 15.71 points while the latter has 9.14 boards.
Aside from Manuel and Abueva, Compton will also rely on his other mainstays of Jvee Casio, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Chris Banchero, Noy Baclao, RJ Jazul, Dondon Hontiveros and Tony dela Cruz.
As for Meralco, the Bolts will try to fan its own playoff bid and avoid an early exit this conference. Black hopes for a consistent showing by his team led by Gary David and Jimmy Alapag, particularly in endgame situations.
The game between TNT and Barako Bull is equally exciting with the Tropang Texters (4-2) shooting for their second straight win after winning their last one against the Blackwater Elite (109-98), while the Energy (3-4) will try to snap a two-game skid.