WHAT THIS GAME MEANS
For the Alaska Aces, this game is about getting it straight. They have basically alternated wins and losses so far so starting a winning streak with this game is what they need. Right now, they just look like a team that will bleed to cop the last few playoff spots. They don’t look nowhere near the Philippine Cup contender they were last year. And much of that can be attributed to the fact that no one from this team’s supposed core has been consistent.
It’s the other way around for the Global Port Batang Pier. Their best players have been super solid. Reigning player of the week Sol Mercado has scored double figures in every game and is averaging five assists and as many boards. Jay “First Name Twenty Last Name Ten” Washington’s work this conference has been under appreciated so far. But if the dude continues to drop double-doubles (he’s had four so far), someone will shout his name. For Sol and Jay, and their proteges, this game is about staying the course. They’ve been hot, jelling, and really playing well. They would like to keep it that way.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Pace and Size vs. Speed
We know that Global Port will play this game like they only have a 12-second shot clock. While the Aces will most probably slow this game down until Sol Mercado and Terrence Romeo get bored. It’s been fun watching the Batang Pier’s “Give the ball to whoever’s feeling it” offense and much of that has been predicated on attacking before the opponent’s defense gets set. That’s something the Aces try to accomplish in every defensive possession by lulling the other team by going very slow.
Another thing to watch out for is the battle of Alaska’s size and Global Port’s speed. Richie Ticzon implements a spread offense with Jay Washington at PF. Luigi Trillo on the other hand, always tries to make use of his team’s size by playing off of Sonny Thoss at the corner of the Triangle O. Both styles have give and takes. The Batang Pier give up post defense and a little bit of rebounding with their lack of size up front. While the Aces big men will be pulled out of their comfort zones with Washington’s ability to attack from the perimeter.
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR
Both Sonny Thoss and Cyrus Baguio cannot be counted on anymore to be consistent offensive threats. And Calvin Abueva has always been a score-off-scraps kinda guy. That’s why going into this conference, the biggest key for the Aces was if Jayvee Casio was ready to take the leap towards being a nightly 15 points-6 assists-guy. He has looked like one so far. He’s been poor from the field, shooting 37% overall and 28% from Caidic Country.
Photos by Paul Ryan Tan and Pranz Kaeno Billones of InterAksyon.com/InterAKTV