ALASKA and Meralco – two teams with contrasting standings in the pro league — collide today in a game so crucial the winner will move closer to the finals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Aces will try to ride on the momentum of their Game 2 victory as they play the Bolts in Game 3 of the best-of-5 semifinal series set at 7 p.m. at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Alaska is the second winningest ballclub in the PBA with 14 titles, but it has never won any title again in the last five seasons now, or since its victory during the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.
The Bolts on the other hand have never won any title yet since entering the league in 2010.
They were able to reach the finals for two consecutive years in the season-ending conference, but were unfortunate to have lost on both occasions.
Still, the goals live on for both teams and one of them will get closer to the championship round today.
The Bolts took the opener of the brief series, 97-92, last Sunday in a game where Allen Durham – the best import during the 2016 and 2017 editions of the conference where the Bolts were the losing finalists – scored 32 points.
The Aces rebounded in Game 2 last Tuesday but not after getting a big scare of almost losing a 20-point cushion to the rallying Bolts.
Were it not for their steady stint from the foul line, the Aces would have fallen down on a hole. They converted 20 of 21 free throws awarded them, including six from Jayvee Casio and Simon Enciso in the final minute, as they levelled the series with a 100-95 triumph.
The Aces led by 20 at 66-46 but the Bolts rallied and got back into the fight, 87-90, entering the homestretch.
“We will go back to the drawing board and see what adjustments are needed in Game 3,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
The Aces outrebounded the Bolts in Game 2, 48-35, and that’s one department that Black said they hope to do better.
“It’s important that we come out with more energy and we do a better job rebounding the ball,” stressed Black.
The Bolts also have to contend with the likes of Mike Harris, Enciso and Chris Banchero who spewed steady fires before the Aces knocked in critical charities at the finish.
Harris finished with 37 points and 19 rebounds, while Enciso and Banchero added 23 and 13 points, respectively, for the Aces.
“We got out of a hole and we’ve now got a best-of-three,” sighed Alaska coach Alex Compton after the win.
“We had much energy tonight (last Tuesday). You can see the spirit of Meralco in the end. Hindi talaga biro at dapat mas maganda ang ipakita namin,” added Compton.