Aces reach Philippine Cup quarterfinals
By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – At the height of the Alaska rally late in the fourth quarter of its PBA Commissioner’s Cup crucial game opposite Powerade, team owner Fred Uytengsu Jr. was in his usual self applauding and shouting words of encouragement to his Aces.
Alaska was down by 16 points, 92-76, with 5:25 to play but a 160 blast capped by jumper from Cyrus Baguio forced overtime. Import Adam Parada’s follow up basket with nine-tenths of second left helped the Aces escape with a 92-90 OT win.
That led to a wild celebration by Alaska, with Uytengsu happily applauding his ball club, which reentered the quarterfinals with an outright berth as it finished with a 5-4 card after missing the round in the previous Philippine Cup.
“Our job, and our purpose as a team at the moment is to put a smile on the face of our boss,“ said Joel Banal, now in his second conference as coach of Alaska. “I hope we can do that every game, because he loves this kind of game.“
“It’s a good opportunity for us to give him a little smile,“ added Banal.
When Alaska missed the playoffs in the last all-Filipino conference, it was only the third time in 32 conferences that the team missed the cut since 1999 all under former coach Tim Cone who led them to 13 championships.
However, Cone decided to leave Alaska before the Philippine Cup, and Banal one of Cone’s assistant coaches was elevated by management as coach.
“All the sacrifices, the heartbreaks we experienced during the all-Filipino, now it’s paying off,“ said Alaska point guard LA Tenorio. “It’s a big confidence booster for us. We need this kind of game because this will be the kind of games in the playoffs.“
“It’s always good to be back in the playoffs,“ added Alaska center Sonny Thoss.
“Hopefully we can use this to follow up into the playoffs. But the playoffs will start next Sunday. So we need to do a good job resting our bodies and keeping the momentum in practice, ready for the playoffs. There are a lot of tough teams in the playoffs.“