After a lackluster effort the last time out, Aces out to redeem themselves

April 20, 2017

ITS LAST time out Alaska seemingly took the day off and paid the price.

The Aces must now rediscover their vaunted energy and hustle if they hope to overcome the dangerous Phoenix Fuel Masters Friday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

A win by Alaska will give it at least a continued hold of third-running spot while Phoenix is looking to snap out of a two-game slide highlighted by a blown 17-point lead and a 94-96 loss to defending champion Rain or Shine two Wednesdays ago.

That recent loss should make the Fuel Masters even more menacing, according to Alaska coach Alex Compton.

"Phoenix is a better team than their record indicates," said Compton on the eve of the match.

"I thought they were excellent for most of the Rain or Shine game and Rain or Shine just had a great rally at the end," added Compton while pointing out Phoenix's array of potent weapons.

"(Jameel) McKay is such an active, aggressive player who really uses his length to his advantage. And Cyrus (Baguio), RJ (Jazul), (Matthew) Wright and JC (Intal) are all playmakers who can both score and create for their teammates," noted Compton.

Indeed, the long-limbed McKay has been averaging 23.5 points and 18.3 while Baguio, Jazul, Wright and Intal combine for almost 40 points and more than 14 assists per game.

"We will really have to be consistent in guarding them and keeping McKay from absolutely dominating the glass if we want to win this game."

Alaska itself is coming off a 91-99 loss to Meralco last April 8, a game which saw the Aces getting terribly outrebounded 34-60 and thus gave the Bolts a plus-14 advantage in second chance points.

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With only Cory Jefferson, Simon Enciso and Calvin Abueva taking on the load of the work, Alaska trailed by as many as 25 points before eventually seeing its unbeaten start halted at four wins.

With averages of a tournament-high 31.8 points on top of 13.2 rebounds Jefferson is again expected to lead the Aces' charge with chief support coming from Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Jayvee Casio and Kevin Racal.