Just like in the last conference, Ginebra once again finds itself shorthanded because of an injury.
The team will miss the services of Japeth Aguilar as he went down with a knee injury in their previous game against Barako Bull. Before that injury, Japeth was playing some pretty good basketball for Ginebra, as he was a great defensive presence that gave you scoring here and there.
Now without their athletic big man, Ginebra finds their Commissioner’s Cup nemisis, the Alaska Aces waiting for them for tomorrow’s game. The Aces have beaten Ginebra five times in last conference, including a three-game sweep in the finals. Alaska dismantled, outhustled and outplayed Ginebra in the last conference and those games were never close.
Now it’s time for some revenge. Ginebra needs to redeem itself against the Aces and I know that the players know that this is the right time to give the fans a good showing.
Here are Ginebra’s key to the game:
1. Let it rain
See the trend? In loses, Ginebra has only put up 21.1% and 16.8% from beyond the arc, but in their lone win they managed to put up 45.5%. Ginebra needs to make those threes for them to open up the Alaska defense in this game.
2. Contain the Beasts
Yes I said Beasts and not Beast. With Wendell McKines, the Aces now have, together with Calvin Abueva two players that play with an intensity and presence that will be hard to match. The two players operate well in rebounding and love to wreck havoc on offensive rebounds and putbacks. These two are averaging 25 boards combined for Alaska, making it one of the best teams in terms of offensive rebounds and second chance points. Without Japeth, it will be more difficult for Ginebra to contain Alaska’s beasts.
3. The Others
Where did the supporting cast go? Nobody in the Ginebra supporting cast has played well this conference. Where did the shooting of Urbiztondo and Baracael go? Maybe more minutes to Dylan Ababou (if he’s healthy enough)? The other players need to step up big time to be able to have a chance against a superior Alaska Aces team.
Key Match-up: Mark Caguioa vs. Cyrus Baguio
As much as I want to see a Tenorio-Casio or Thoss-Aguilar match-up, I’m going with Caguioa-Baguio this time. Caguioa knows he needs to play big and he wants some revenge against Alaska while Baguio has always been a Ginebra killer since he was traded out of the Barangay.
It’s a tough call. During my conference preview I predicted a 6-3 finish for Ginebra with one of its losses coming from this Aces team. I’ll still go for Alaska (so painful for me to say it), but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ginebra will come out with fire in their eyes and win this game for Japeth and the Barangay faithful.