4:15 p.m. – NLEX vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Meralco vs Alaska
Facing a team that has shown a lot of improvement during the previous two conferences, it’s understandable for Alaska coach Alex Compton to be wary when the Aces battle the Meralco Bolts in the PBA Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After all, following a disastrous campaign in the all-Filipino conference last season where it finished with a 1-10 card, Meralco zoomed to the semifinals and finals of the next two conferences.
“Meralco has moved into the upper echelon of the PBA. They are well-coached, playing well, are big, and have added talented wing men,” said Compton a day before their match against the Bolts.
Alaska (1-2) plays Meralco (2-1) at 7 p.m. after the 4:15 p.m. encounter between NLEX (1-2) and Blackwater (2-2).
Both the Elite and the Road Warriors are out to end their respective two-game losing skids, with NLEX dropping its last game to Star (99-75) while Blackwater bowed to Rain or Shine (107-93).
After losing their first two games, the Aces finally got their first win this season following a come-from-behind 95-84 victory over the GlobalPort Batang Pier last Dec. 7 in Antipolo City.
The game marked the return of “The Beast” Calvin Abueva – Alaska’s do-it-all forward – after he missed the team’s first two games due to tonsillitis and a bruised quadricep (right leg).
While the former San Sebastian stalwart is ready to again lead the team, Alaska’s resident center Sonny Thoss remains a doubtful starter due to a knee injury he sustained in the pre-season.
The team, however, got a reliable player in third-year center Jake Pascual, who Alaska obtained in a trade last week with the Star Hotshots for defense-oriented guard Rome dela Rosa.
But with Pascual still adjusting and Thoss not around to protect the shaded lane, Compton knows it will be hard to match Meralco’s frontline of Rabah Al-Hussaini, Kelly Nabong, Bryan Faundo, Reynel Hugnatan and Cliff Hodge.