Alaska, Meralco dispute last Finals berth
Alaska Milk and Meralco go through one final grind Wednesday, disputing in a do-or-die setto for the right to battle Rain or Shine in the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven Finals.
The no-tomorrow match is set at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and the question is how well the fortitude of the two teams will hold up in the face of each other’s expected all-out spunk.
The Aces are not unfamiliar in this situation, having survived two knockout matches in the quarterfinal round versus the Tropang TNT Texters.
Alaska has rich experience and knowledge on its side but Meralco has got the burning desire and determination to land in the grandest stage of PBA play for the first time in franchise history.
Both teams have shown their grit with Alaska winning Game 1 (97-94) in a tight duel then Game 3 (92-72) in a dominant fashion, and Meralco churning out the same in Games 2 (92-87) and 4 (86-70).
The two teams are expected to put everything on the floor in the deciding Game 5.
“We’ve lived to fight another game. Now we’ll try to go all the way to the finals,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
The Meralco franchise has never got past the semifinals, but Black has players who’ve been in the Promised Land.
Jared Dillinger, Jimmy Alapag and Reynel Hugnatan, in particular, have been complementing well import Arinze Onuaku.
Alaska, meanwhile, hopes to shrug off its pathetic Game 4 showing.
“I tell you, if we play this way, and they play this way, they’re (the Bolts) going to the finals,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
“We shot terrible. And the reason why we shot poor was we’re taking the wrong shots,” he added. “The way we played on offense is never been anything I’ve ever emphasized. It’s never what we’ve taught and it’s never what we’ve done.”
The Aces, however, is definitely capable to make a come back and play big in the biggest moments of the game.
They have overcome a 0-1 deficit versus Tropang TNT in their best-of-three quarterfinals showdown.
If they survive another do-or-die tiff, the Aces arrange with the E-Painters the first PBA finals in 16 years without a team from San Miguel Corp. and the MVP Group.
But whichever team wins set a first PBA matchup – Rain or Shine versus Alaska or Rain or Shine opposite Meralco.
The Elasto Painters have been to five previous finales, tangling with the BMEG/San Mig Coffee and Talk n Text.
Compton insists they’ve got to raise the level of their game. “I’m proud we’ve got this far, but I don’t think playing the way we did (Monday) will get us where we want to go,” he said.
After Alaska held Meralco to its lowest output in the conference in Game Two, 92-72, the Bolts returned the favor Monday, holding the Aces to their lowest production in a game in the last four conferences.
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