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PBA: Batang Pier, Aces in KO tiff

Game Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
6:30 p.m. – Alaska vs GlobalPort

The Alaska Aces, a team on the brink, and the GlobalPort Batang Pier, who a month ago seemed destined for an early vacation, meet in a one-game playoff for the eighth and final quarterfinals berth today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

At stake in the lone game set at 6:30 p.m. is a place in the quarterfinals against the top seed and twice-to-beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, a reward which either team would gladly take after enduring what was mostly a difficult campaign in the elimination round.

Alaska was primed to be one of the early quarterfinalists after racing to four straight wins.

The Aces, however, have never won a game since then losing the next seven to fall in a dangerous predicament of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 Governors’ Cup.

GlobalPort’s start was the other way around, starting the midseason tournament at 0-4.

Import changes and trades gave the Batang Pier a respectable seven-game stretch where they won four to forge a playoff with the Aces.

The three teams actually shared a 4-7 record with the Phoenix Fuel Masters, who qualified as the seventh seed in the quarters because of a superior quotient. Alaska beat GlobalPort, 103-77, in the only elims meeting last Feb. 18 but things will likely be different this time.

“We just have to win on Sunday, I don’t see using the reason of being tired as an alibi. What’s important is we have to survive our Sunday game,” said GlobalPort coach Franz Pumaren, whose team has been used to survival since early May.

The Batang Pier had been 2-6 at the time when they took part in a four-team trade with Meralco, NLEX and TNT KaTropa, receiving Sean Anthony, Bradwyn Guinto and Jonathan Grey. Their additions, particularly Anthony, have gave them two wins in the last three.

That improved form also came after Justin Harper became the team’s third import after struggling Sean Williams and Malcolm White. He and top local scorer Terrence Romeo, who earlier in the conference dealt with typhoid fever, have been impressive as well.