With their injury-hit lineup, the Alaska Milk Aces continue trying to be resilient, disciplined and focused on the task at hand.
They are convinced that's the only way to win games in their present condition, and they know it's tough.
Alaska coach Alex Compton said they have a tough road ahead starting with their game against the NLEX Road Warriors Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Afterwards, they will be up against the TNT KaTropa, the Meralco Bolts, the San Miguel Beermen and the NorthPort Batang Pier.
At 3-3, the Aces, the Governors Cup runners-up, still have a faint chance of making the Top Two of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations. But a shot at that requires a sweep of their five remaining games.
"It's not easy," said Compton.
But the Aces are determined to fight hard in each of their remaining games to at least punch a ticket to the playoffs. They are currently in the middle of the pack, trailing the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters (8-2), the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (7-3), the Beermen (6-3), the KaTropa (5-3), and the Barangay Ginebra Kings (4-3).
In a more delicate spot are the NLEX Road Warriors at 2-5.
They face virtual do-or-die situations in their last four outings versus the Aces, the Blackwater Elite, the Kings and the Magnolia Hotshots.
The Aces have dropped their last game against the Magnolia Hotshots while the Road Warriors are coming off back-to-back losses - an 82-83 heartbreaker against the Fuel Masters and a shattering 111-121 defeat at the hands of the Beermen.
Both are likely to go hard against each other, promising a slam-bang battle.
But the Aces could well be the slight favorites as they are expected to use their dreaded pressing defense against the crippled NLEX backcourt minus Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas.
The question is whether Juami Tiongson, Mark Tallo and Kyles Lao can handle the press.
The Road Warriors, however, could have the edge in the frontcourt with Poy Erram, JR Quinahan, Asi Taulava, Kristofer Porter and Marion Magat who will be up against his former teammates.
Ditched by the Aces in the offseason, Magat has got a new lease on life as provided by coach Yeng Guiao.
As a Road Warrior, the former National U stalwart averages 6.9 points and 5.6 rebounds. (SB)