By JONAS TERRADO
ALASKA and Phoenix shoot for their second straight wins and the share of the early lead before their highly-anticipated faceoff when they face separate rivals today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces battle struggling TNT KaTropa in the 4:30 p.m. opener before the Fuel Masters tackle the NorthPort Batang Pier in the other match set at 6:45 p.m.
Both squads hope to secure another victory before they meet on Wednesday for the first time since Alaska traded Calvin Abueva to Phoenix in exchange for Karl Dehesa and a 2019 first round draft pick.
Alaska began the season-ending conference with an 80-72 win over Meralco two nights earlier at the Mall of Asia Arena, but coach Alex Compton isn’t taking TNT lightly despite a 104-98 overtime loss to Blackwater on the same day.
TNT was ahead by four with less than two minutes remaining in regulation but allowed Blackwater to force a five-minute extension.
“Sometimes good teams have bad games, it happens to everybody,” said Compton. “But TNT is incredibly dangerous and I think all of us in the PBA know that.”
Compton saw a productive outing from import Mike Harris, who posted 23 points and 15 rebounds, though he believes the former NBA player has yet to display his true form.
Among the things the Aces are concern of is the KaTropa’s talent-laden squad powered by Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy and facing import Stacy Davis, who had 23 pints and 16 rebounds in his debut.
Meanwhile, Phoenix beat Columbian Dyip, 113-107, on Wednesday in Abueva’s first game with the team.
Abueva was able to display his worth as one of the PBA’s best players with 12 points and 13 rebounds but Phoenix could give Alaska fits with veteran Eugene Phelps coming off a 50-point performance.
NorthPort started the conference last Sunday with a 123-107 defeat at the hands of NLEX at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Batang Pier coach Pido Jarencio is worried that his team could suffer more with Stanley Pringle playing in the Indonesia Asian Games, Sean Anthony nursing a calf injury and Jeric Teng and Nico Elorde suffering injuries against NLEX.