Game Sunday (Mall of Asia Arena)
5 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine
Manila, Philippines – After taking a much-needed break on New Year’s Eve, Alaska started 2015 by returning to practice yesterday in preparation for Game 6 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against Rain or Shine.
Aces mentor Alex Compton gave the players and coaching staff a day-off last Dec. 31 to let them celebrate the New Year with their families.
It was Alaska’s only rest day since beating Rain or Shine, 93-88, last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven affair.
“It’s going to be the same practice session for us, we’ll do the same things,” said Alaska guard JVee Casio.
According to the 5-foot-10 Casio, nothing will come easy when they clash against ROS on Sunday at the MOA Arena, as he expects the Elsato Painters to go all-out to force a do-or-die Game 7.
“I think malayo pa to be over, it’s not going to be easy. Alam din naman natin na malakas and Rain or Shine, kayatalagang hindi magiging madali,” said Casio, who averages 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and four assists in the semifinals.
In last season’s Governors’ Cup, Alaska took a 2-1 lead on Rain or Shine in a five-game semis duel, but the Painters won the next two matches to clinch a spot in the finals.
Casio said they have moved on from that painful experience.
“It’s over with, what happened last conference. This is the all-Filipino conference and we’re determined to win this series to make it to the finals. I think everyone’s goal is to finish them off (in Game 6),” said Casio.
“But it depends on us, it depends on what kind of energy we’ll display in Game 6,” added Casio, who is one of the key players of Alaska alongside Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, RJ Jazul and Dondon Hontiveros.
The series saw Alaska win the series-opener, 87-80, but Rain or Shine rebounded with a 102-95 victory in Game 2.
The Aces again took the lead in the series, 2-1, with a masterful 94-78 triumph during Game 3 that was marred by the ejection of ROS Coach Yeng Guiao and center Beau Belga due to continuous complaining.
In Game 4, however, the 6-foot-2 Abueva was ejected late in the fourth quarter due to a Flagrant Foul 2 for punching ROS guard Jonathan Uyloan, and Rain or Shine tied the series anew at 2-2 with a come-from-behind 98-91 win.
Abueva, though, was treated with kid gloves after he escaped suspension from league Commissioner Chito Salud, who gave the Alaska’s do-it-all forward just a P20,000 penalty.
Just like in their first five games, Casio said that he expects the same intensity and physicality against Rain or Shine. If the Painters prevail, Game 7 will be played on Tuesday also at the MOA Arena.
While the Aces resumed their practice session yesterday, the Painters will only return to work today as Guiao gave his players a three-day rest. Despite a 2-3 deficit in the series, he is confident they will play a Game 7.
“We’ll resume tomorrow, and we’ll be ready to prepare for Game 6,” said Guiao.