Bolts, Aces in knockout duel

BY just listening to the coaches of Meralco and Alaska — contending teams in a knockout game for the eighth and final quarterfinal slot today – one could really expect a hell of a fight at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It’s a game where the winner extends its campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup and the loser takes an early vacation.

That’s the scenario when the Bolts and the Aces collide at 7 p.m. in a knockout which became necessary after the teams ended in a three-way tie for the 8th spot at 4-7 at the end of the elimination round. The other team in the logjam was Phoenix.

However, upon the application of the quotient system, the Fuel Masters went down to 10th spot and joined Columbian Dyip and NLEX which were both eliminated long before.

The Bolts, who defeated San Miguel Beer at the close of the elimination round last Wednesday to stay alive, and the Aces were left to dispute the remaining playoff slot.

“I can only state the obvious for both teams which is win or go home,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

“We will have to bring a high energy level versus a well-rested Alaska team,” added Black.

The Aces lost their last five outings in an alarming nosedive capped by a 112-104 loss to Blackwater last Sunday, but they nevertheless kept their chances of making the next round – something that makes Alaska coach Alex Compton to remain optimistic.

“In my belief, one of the pillars of things we build on is honor the game. If you got a chance, you honor it and you play hard, you know,” said Compton.

“In this country, where so many people aspire to be in the PBA, if you don’t honor the game, and play hard, then you shouldn’t be here cause a lot of people want to be here, and for a lot of people, it’s their dream to have this kind of chance,” added Compton.

The team that will hurdle this one will have an even tougher time next round because it will have tournament top-seed Talk ‘N Text as its opponent, and a top-seed enjoys twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal round.

NorthPort became second seed and has the same incentive against San Miguel Beer which skidded to number 7 at the end of the elimination.