by Jonas Terrado
Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs Alaska
Alaska’s survival in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals will depend largely on how its guards can redeem themselves from being outplayed by their Magnolia counterparts in the first two games of the series.
Starters Chris Banchero and Simon Enciso have found themselves groping for form on offense as well as taking care of the ball, things they hope to resolve by the time Game 3 of the series began last night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“It’s gonna come down to us taking better care of the ball and go from there,” Banchero said after Friday’s 77-71 loss at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Another loss will put the Aces in a difficult situation of erasing a 0-3 deficit, something only the San Miguel Beermen were able to overcome in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals.
Incidentally, it came at the expense of the Aces.
Banchero averaged 10.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals in the first two games while Enciso posted 7.5 points. 1.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
But both guards have combined for 21 of the Aces’ 51 turnovers in the finals even as they had difficultly matching up with Magnolia’s Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon.
The two also struggled shooting the ball, with Banchero going 8-of-22 and Enciso 5-of-14.
Ping Exciminiano and Jvee Casio have provided some activity for Aces on both ends with success, except that the Aces have fallen short of getting the win both times.
In contrast, Barroca and Jalalon have been the difference makers for the Hotshots with the timely plays.
It was Jalalon who finally gave the Hotshots the needed edge in Game 2, his jumper with 2:40 to play in the fourth put them up for good at 73-71.
The positive thing the Aces’ guards have been able to succeed is their usual play on the defensive end, forcing the Hotshots to 43 turnovers in the series.
Banchero, Enciso and Exciminiano have combined for 10 steals after two games.