Resurgent Boosters, Aces target solo lead
[ Source: Philippine Star ] - March 08, 2013
MANILA, Philippines - A revved-up Petron Blaze and erstwhile solo leader Alaska Milk fight for the solo lead tonight even as Rain or Shine tries to stay right behind the frontrunner against Globalport in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters and the Batang Pier face off at 5:15 p.m. while the Aces try to recover lost grounds against the streaking Boosters at 7:30 p.m., marking the halfway mark of the elims phase of the mid-season tourney.
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Alaska, which swept its first five games in impressive fashion, dropped to a share of the lead with Petron after bowing to the San Mig Coffee, 68-75, last Wednesday.
“It’s interesting how we will react from our loss to San Mig Coffee,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
“We lost to the same Petron team in the Sinulog Cup finals in Cebu during the preseason. (Rey) Balkman is playing really well, and (Alex) Cabagnot, coming back into the lineup, is another guy we have to watch out for. Petron is fluid and has a five-game winning streak. It’s not going to be easy,” said Trillo.
Petron coach Olsen Racela is excited to play the Aces, expecting a good match-up that can well be a good test for his wards.
“Alaska is playing with so much confidence, and I’m sure their loss to San Mig Coffee will be their motivation to go all out for a win against us. We just have to be ready against them. This is going to be a good test for our team,” said Racela.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine is half-game behind the pacesetters at 4-1 while Globalport now languishes near the cellar at 2-4 after dropping all its last three games with hardly a lift from import Justin Williams.
Their match against the E-Painters could well be Williams’ farewell game in the PBA with Globalport reportedly finalizing agreement with a new import prospect.
“It is urgent that we pick up our game at this juncture and hopefully get a win versus Rain or Shine. It is a tough team and we must disrupt their offensive flow if we are to score a win,” said Baculi.
“Our import should be more aggressive on offense. He must assert his game more to tow the locals,” Baculi added.
Despite injuries to Cabagnot, Chris Lutz and Danny Ildefonso, the Boosters strung up five straight victories after their losing their conference debut against the Batang Pier.
Balkman was a steady force for Petron in that run, wreaking havoc against San Mig Coffee, Barangay Ginebra, Meralco, Air21 and Barako Bull.
“I may be the shortest (among all imports) but I’ve got the biggest heart. When I’m on the court, that’s what I am – unbreakable,” said Balkman.
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