THERE is little question that Alaska's remaining players are able to implement the team system, focused on defense, despite the absence of some of its key players.
The same cannot be said of Blackwater as it continues to struggle following a drastic pre-season overhaul.
That doesn't mean the Elite would be easy picking for the Aces when they collide Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alaska is looking for a second straight win in three games while Blackwater wants to cut short a three-game slide going to a two-week break the league takes to give way to the national team's stint in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Both teams next see action March 1.
The Aces are coming off a cruising 94-72 win over the Columbian Dyip last week when the likes of Carl Bryan Cruz, Jake Pascual and Ping Exciminiano led a balanced attack that more than offset the continued absence of Vic Manuel, Jayvee Casio, Kevin Racal and Simon Enciso.
The Elite, on the other hand, have lost their last three games by an average of 17 points as its remaining players, who include five new ones, find it tough to make up for the loss prior to the season of Poy Erram, John Pinto and Paul Zamar.
Alaska coach Alex Compton does not want to use Blackwater's slide as a gauge of its real strength, however.
"Big game for both teams," said Compton on the eve of the match.
"And we are aware of the multiple threats and many talented players that Blackwater has," added Compton.
"As always we will really be focusing on team defense first and hope that that will be a catalyst for us in this game."
For Blackwater coach Bong Ramos, it would be about his team not allowing Alaska to pull away.
"We should try to make the score close or if we can take the lead much better so we'll have a chance in the endgame," said Ramos.
"Mahirap kapag makakalayo mga teams na kalaban namin." (NC)