May 23, 2017

Aces, Road Warriors in tug-of-war for the elusive ‘W’

ALASKA has been on an alarming tailspin and badly needs to snap out of it.

NLEX could help, but that is only if the Road Warriors come up with the listless game they have lately been known for in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Aces are eyeing a win that would not only snap them out of their four-game slide but also put them back on course for nabbing one of the three remaining quarterfinals slots.

The game carries little meaning for NLEX, which has long been taken out in the race for quarterfinals slots. But seven-time champion coach Yeng Guiao would surely want his charges to at least act out the role of spoilers not only against Alaska but also against Phoenix on Saturday.

The importance of the game for his Alaska squad and the ambush NLEX may have laid out are not lost on coach Alex Compton.

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"This is a huge game for us and we are treating it like a must-win," said Compton, whose Aces still have to battle San Miguel Beer on Saturday and Star next Wednesday.

"We need to get back on track and play excellent for 48 minutes against a Coach Yeng-coached team that has nothing to lose," added Compton.

"No excuses for us. We need to be great tomorrow."

That has not been the case for Alaska in its funk that dates back to April 8 and capped by a 110-119 loss to TNT KaTropa last Saturday in Legaspi City, where the Aces blew as much as an early 17-point lead.

What should boost Alaska's hopes is the fact NLEX is freshly re-tooled and has not had enough time to acclimatize its new acquisitions in JR Quinahan, Alex Mallari and Kenneth Ighalo to the team's system.

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Worse, another new recruit in Larry Fonacier and veteran guard Jonas Villanueva are both out for the remainder of the conference after having bone spurs on their respective feet removed.

That leaves Guiao to rely mostly once again on Wayne Chism, Carlo Lastimosa, Kevin Alas and Rabeh Al-Hussaini.

In contrast, Alaska would be coming in full force with Gilas standout Calvin Abueva, Jayvee Casio, the more in-form Vic Manuel and Sonny Thoss there to provide Cory Jefferson support.