The semi-finals series just got a lot more interesting as the Alaska Aces finally won against the San Mig Coffee Mixers, 86-67. It took the Aces nine frustrating losses to figure out how to beat their former coach’s new team, but last night they were able to find the extra push they needed to come out victorious.
The Aces were the epitome of teamwork last night, overwhelming SMC with their outstanding defense and stellar offense. As early as the second quarter, they were already able to pull off a comfortable lead thanks to JVee Casio’s hot outside shooting. Calvin Abueva came up with eight points but his main contribution last night was getting James Yap into foul trouble, leading him to score only five points. However, the real star of Game 2 was Alaska import Robert Dozier who dominated the game for four quarters. He outclassed SMC’s Denzel Bowles by coming up with 28 points and 27 rebounds. Bowles, on the other hand, had eight points and 17 rebounds.
How the game was won:
This game was definitely won by Alaska’s excellent defense. During the last game, they succeeded in defending Denzel Bowles for most of the game but became complacent in the last few minutes. This led to Bowles shooting clutch baskets to win the game. This time around, the Aces were prepared to go all out for the whole 48 minutes. They successfully limited shots from the usual SMC scorers, Yap and Barroca, and constantly triple-teamed Denzel Bowles to limit his scoring to only eight points. The Coffee Mixers were unable to get easy shots and had a shooting percentage of only 34.2%.
Review of the keys to the game:
1. Get rid of the “we are going up against our former coach” mentality – Big check for this one. They’ve been so close to winning during their last few meetings, so they had to keep their cool once they were able to widen the scoring gap. They couldn’t afford to relax at any point of the game because SMC could easily make a run to tie the game, even in the last few minutes. They were able to maintain their focus and won convincingly.
2. Shut down Bowles – In the last game, we saw how good Denzel Bowles is when playing under pressure. Even if he wasn’t able to score much in the first three quarters, he scored six straight points when they really needed it in the fourth. On the other hand, Robert Dozier played hard the whole game but Alaska’s defense pretty much fell apart in the last few minutes. This time, the Aces were definitely determined to not let that happen again. They were able to effectively shut down Bowles with their superb defense, limiting him to a basket or two per quarter.
3. All about execution – Alaska definitely outperformed the Coffee Mixers both defensively and offensively. The Aces caught SMC off guard by playing an aggressive and physical game. They were able to shoot 42.9% as compared to SMC’s 34.2%. JVee Casio and Robert Dozier were unstoppable last night, leading the team to their long-awaited victory.
Preview for the next game:
The next match will surely be a close one. I’m sure Denzel Bowles will be working double time during the long break in order to avoid a repeat monster performance from Dozier, so that’s a match up we’ll all be watching out for. Aside from the import battle, the Coffee Mixers will be able to use the break to prepare for a highly physical game three. The Aces also need to use their time wisely to figure out how to maintain their level of aggressiveness against a more prepared SMC. The Coffee Mixers also need to keep in mind that they are now going up against a much more confident team. Finally, Alaska also needs to figure out how to stop James Yap who is probably due for a big game, especially since he has time to rest his aching back. At this point, it’s impossible to predict who will take the win in Game 3… but of course I’ll say Alaska! :)