ALASKA may be decimated, but the fight is still very much in abundance within the Aces' camp.
In fact, coach Jeffrey Cariaso believes his Alaska side should be within the winners' circle following its game against Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok Saturday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena.
The Hotshots are looking to notch their second straight win in three games and coach Chito Victolero knows his team is in for another tough test, like in their 103-100 squeaker over NLEX last Wednesday.
"We expect a very hard game," said Victolero during last Thursday's Media Availability session.
"Kasi makakalaban namin galing sa talo,eh. Kagabi (Wednesday) pa lang, sinabi ko na sa kanila na Alaska will come out very, very strong because... 0-2 they have that sense of urgency to, you know, fight back, play hard. Nasa amin na iyon kung papaano kami mag-hahanda, kung papaano namin titingnan as a whole 'yung game na iyon."
Alaska will be going to battle without Kevin Racal, who has been diagnosed with a torn right ACL, and Maverick Ahanmisi, who is a late arrival in the bubble and would be cleared from the mandatory quarantine on Saturday.
But Cariaso still adopts the view that the game is a golden opportunity for his crew to finally snap out of a two-defeat start to the bubble.
"I like this match-up kasi feeling ko we can also match up with them," said Cariaso on the eve of the game.
"First of all we have to be ready for their pressure. Alam naman natin na they are guard-heavy. Makukulit mga guards nila so we have to be able to handle the pressure better," offered Cariaso.
Cariaso's statements were based on his assessment of the Hotshots' first game, which saw the conference finalists the last two seasons raze a 22-point third quarter deficit before outlasting NLEX.
Magnolia's backcourt men in Chris Banchero, Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca mainly took charge in that fiery fightback.
Yet Cariaso is undaunted and even saw ample reason to fuel his optimism.
"I think we have the guards to match up and then may advantage rin tayo inside. I also know Ian (Sangalang) is their biggest threat inside. Feeling ko, if we play at a better level mas advantage big guys natin," said Cariaso.
"So, going into this game very optimistic," added Cariaso. "We have to play better, lalo pa ngayon. Eto na, medyo pasara na ng pasara pinto, so we have to get that first win. We're really gonna go for it tomorrow." (NC)