There is no time to rest for Alaska despite the luxury of earning an outright semifinal berth in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup as practice sessions continued until yesterday at the Hoops Gym in Mandaluyong City.
Aces guard Jayvee Casio said that they have been working on improving on the little things to get better on both ends of the court and prepare them well for the best-of-seven semifinals.
“We got to the semifinals automatically, but it doesn’t mean that we’re resting or we’re relaxing. We’re working on some things that will improve us as a team,” said the 5-foot-10 Casio.
The Alex Compton-mentored Alaska earned an outright semifinal spot after finishing tied with defending champion and last season’s rival San Miguel Beer for the best record of 9-2.
The two teams avoided a playoff match to decide the No. 2 spot and the second semifinal bonus when Rain or Shine lost finished with an 8-3 record after losing to NLEX (106-111) last week.
A three-way tie at 9-2 would have given the Elasto Painters the top seed and first automatic semifinal slot, but the setback relegated them to the knockout quarterfinals while the Aces and the Beermen ended 1-2.
“Malaking bagay siyempre na nasa semis na kami, yun na ang pinagha-handaan namin ngayon,” said do-it-all forward Calvn Abueva, who is averaging nearly 14 points and nine rebounds this conference.
The semifinal stage starts Jan. 4 next year and to keep the players in shape, Compton conducted practice sessions since Monday following a break last Sunday.
The last time the Aces played was Saturday when they survived a late comeback by Barako Bull, 108-100.
Alaska will face in the semifinals the survivor in the quarterfinal bracket that has Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Globalport, Barako Bull and Star. The Kings and the Batang Pier hold twice-to-beat incentives on the Hotshots and the Energy in today’s playoffs at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.