Aces go for series clincher vs Bolts in Game 4
Alaska Milk coach Alex Compton was thankful for an extra day rest, seeing it as an opportunity for his players to refresh and be ready for a cutthroat approach in trying to finish off Meralco in their semis battle.
Compton just had the Aces walking through their plays and patterns on Saturday. The next day, they sweated it out just enough to prepare for an expected dog-eat-dog face-off in Game 4 of their side of the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal playoff.
The Aces take their first of two shots at wrapping up the series in the 7 p.m. tiff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s not hard to expect that we’ll play the kind of game we’re known for,” said Compton. “That’s our strength. That’s our identity. That’s what we are.”
Pressing and hustling almost all throughout Game Three, the Aces pulled off a 92-72 rout for the pivotal 2-1 lead in the series.
The Aces will have the same game plan and mindset for the next game.
“Mahirap silang pabayaan to run their set plays. Arinze (Onuaku) is a solid force at the post and they have their shooters,” said Alaska gunner Dondon Hontiveros.
For the Bolts, the key is to battle the Aces effort for effort.
Meralco coach Norman Black rued the lazy stand they put up in Game 3.
“The first half was okay, we played pretty well and we played competitively, but the second half was horrible and lazy. We didn’t get back on defense, turned the ball too much,” he said.
“If you’re going to play basketball like that this late in the season, you don’t deserve to win,” he added.
For Meralco ace playmaker Jimmy Alapag, the two-day break is an opportunity “(for us) to get our mind and body right and try to even things up on Monday.”
The Bolts have to regroup and rethink their ploy if they’re to stop the Aces and force a deciding Game 5.
While the Aces chase a third straight finals, the Bolts are in pursuit of a first-ever PBA finals since taking over the Sta. Lucia Realty franchise.
Alaska Milk, beaten in the crunch the last time, came back playing a rock-solid defense throughout to clip Meralco in Game 3.
“We defended for 39 minutes in Game Two. We played defense for 48 minutestonight,” said Compton.
“I know we made our shots. Chris Banchero had a personal career best number of three-pointers, Rob Dozier made his shots, and that’s really great. But it’s really our defense,” Compton added.
Defending well in each Meralco possession, the Aces held the Bolts to their lowest output in the conference. Before the game, no team had held Meralco below 86.
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