June 14, 2018

NLEX will have to dig deep to have chance against Alaska

Absence of two key players hasn't stopped the Alaska Milk Aces from being an amazing team in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

Unbeaten in their last six games, the Aces look to keep their romp in pursuit of a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals as they take on the back-to-the-wall NLEX squad at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night.

Struggling badly with their own decimated line-up, the Road Warriors are in a must-win situation in going up against the Aces at 7 p.m.

NLEX has tapped in another warm body in Mark Tallo in an effort to shore up its lineup on the ouster of Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas. The team earlier signed up Jonathan Uyloan.

But the Road Warriors have got buried deep down the team standings at 2-6, and they have a lot of catching up to do if they're to make it past the elims play.

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Their last three assignments are the Aces, the San Miguel Beermen and the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots.

Alaska, meanwhile, is an amazing lot, staying on the run even in the absence of Calvin Abueva and Jeron Teng.

A big key is Vic Manuel who's been consistently churning out MVP performances in the tourney.

For the fourth time in seven games, Manuel established a career best with 35 points as the Aces rolled past the Hotshots, 103-99, Sunday over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Manuel practically had defender Rafi Reavis for his dinner in that game.

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"It's impossible to talk to you guys without talking about Vic Manuel," said Alaska coach Alex Compton after the game.

"Rafi is one of the premier one-on-one defenders and I have a lot of respect for Rafi when it comes to defense. For Vic to score against a smart, long defender like Rafi is very impressive. It was pretty phenomenal," Compton also said.

Then, there are Antonio Campbell, Sonny Thoss, Jvee Casio, Chris Banchero, Kevin Racal, Ping Exciminiano and Noy Baclao who have also been doing well.

The Road Warriors definitely have a job cut out for them against the Aces.(SB)