PBA quarterfinal preview: Ginebra can't struggle against back-in-shape Alaska
MANILA, Philippines – League-leading Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's road to the promised land starts on Wednesday, January 22 when they meet the embattled Alaska Aces crew at the Mall of Asia Arena.
(1) Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel (11-3) vs (8) Alaska Aces (5-9)
Philippine Cup head-to-head: Ginebra leads, 1-0
Ginebra 96, Alaska 89
READ: Aguilar, Tenorio lead as Ginebra overcomes Alaska
Why Ginebra will win: The last time Ginebra topped the Philippine Cup eliminations, they went on to win it all back in the 2007 season where the likes of Rudy Hatfield, Eric Menk, Mark Caguioa, and Jayjay Helterbrand propelled the team towards the crown. With weapons like Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, and LA Tenorio, it looks likes the crowd darlings could turn themselves into crown favorites as well; in order to fulfill that dream, they must continue working hard.
Why Alaska will win: The Aces' shooters have struggled all conference long, but finally got into the groove just in time for the playoffs. Alaska survived back-to-back do-or-die games and will have another gruelling task against Ginebra. JVee Casio exploded for 18.5 points in those two games, firing 54% from downtown. Dondon Hontiveros (20 points) and Cyrus Baguio (16 points) made key baskets against Meralco on Monday, leading the team to victory. Alaska will get it done if everyone contributes. They cannot go empty-handed against a superior Ginebra squad. Everything must click.
Sonny Thoss (15.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG)/Gabby Espinas (12.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG) vs Greg Slaughter (15.7 PPG, 10.2 RPG)/Japeth Aguilar (18.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG)
This series is a titanic battle of frontcourts. Sonny Thoss is the most experienced of the four, and he must utilize his overall skill set to control the paint. Gabby Espinas is an absolute workhorse who can crash the boards for the Aces. For Ginebra, their towering duo of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar must stay aggressive throughout the game. They may be younger but they should go all out the help their team make it to the top.
Ginebra: Jay-R Reyes
Aside from Ginebra's twin towers, Jay-R Reyes provides the team with a chief backup who can play both the four and five positions. His toughness inside is crucial for Ginebra; he must match the physicality of Alaska's bigs all the time.
Alaska: JVee Casio
JVee Casio has been a premier outside shooter in the league right from his rookie season. His accuracy from downtown took a big drop in this conference, but he finally recovered in their two do-or-die games. He will be a vital weapon for Coach Luigi Trillo's wards in this showdown.
What this game means: Alaska salvaged the season with back-to-back wins on Sunday and Monday, and will once again fight for survival. For sure, Ginebra will be the more well-rested squad coming into their encounter, but expect a war since the Aces are fighting for life. Ginebra should close this series right away and make sure they don't give Alaska any chance, because the Aces are a very dangerous squad even if they finished only 8th in the elimination round.
RAPPLER PICK: Ginebra in two games