The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. -Thomas Paine
Such a long time since I go after the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner games, but this conference is just a head turner. The team rosters are balanced enough that you cannot anymore identify who’s the best team in the league. But the one who has the focus and heart to win will emerge. Coming from eliminations, Alaska Aces finished at the top spot and got straight to the Semis, facing their toughest opponent for two conferences, San Mig Coffee Mixers, as they have not beaten them for almost 20 months, from the time that the legendary coach Tim Cone had left the team.
The Semis Game 1 displayed the defense capability of these two contenders as they limit each other’s scores to be lowered than 80 points, and I thought it was an advantage for Alaska. However the last 60 seconds of the game, with the shooting prowess of Denzel Bowles (San Mig import) took the first win away from Alaska. The Mixers fan have rallied via social networking sites, that Alaska will never ever beat the Mixers, because of their winning cards against them. Luigi Trillo, Alaska’s head coach would like to prove them wrong and take out the monkey off his back.
Yesterday’s Game 2 was an intense game from the beginning. I watched the entire 48 minutes game of action, and it is the kind of game that you want to watch over and over. I thought that these key points made Alaska a better team compared to their contenders;
* The coaching staff knew the depth of their bench. They made great player switches on a timely manner.
* Espinas and Abueva are the wild cards, they will get into your skin, and if you allow them you will be succumb by their pesky defense, you will be out of focus. Espinas were tasked to defend Bowles, a tough assignment for him, though he was thrown out of the game at the 1st half, he clearly had made the resting minutes of Thoss to be worthwhile. Abueva did a good job in defending James Yap, as the top local scorer of San Mig Coffee. I thought it was smart of him to create the flops, and put James Yap in foul trouble.
* JV Casio stepped up offensively. Baguio made 3 important steals and Dozier exemplified how a great import should be. The latter had 28 points and 27 monster rebounds.
* The Alaska team remained focus and did not panic as the Mixers made the closest run at the 4th quarter bringing the lead to just 11 points. Sonny Thoss made 2 back-to-back baskets to put stop on it.
This game 2 reminded me of the Alaska grandslam era in the 90s where everyone is contributing, running the plays they are so familiar with and that they believe there’s no such thing as unbeatable in PBA. I would like to commend the Mixers for giving a good series, if not for them the triumph wouldn’t be sweeter. As all Alaska fans look forward to Game 3 after the all star game, we all hope that no one will get hurt in the future, as the semis is getting closer to its end, I know its going to be tough physically and mentally. Now the semis between Alaska and San Mig Coffee Mixers gets more exciting as the Alaska team brings back the kind of confidence they have from eliminations, because being the number is never a fluke.