The two leading teams will be taking their talents to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Both the Alaska Aces and the Barako Bull Energy Cola have been playing smoking hot games, but one team will have to take their first loss tomorrow.
The Aces are coming from a win over the Meralco Bolts, where they enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout most of the game. The Bolts only got their groove on in the last quarter, where they threatened to close the gap with Ronjay Buenafe’s three-point shooting. However, the Aces remained cool and collected and took their second win, 85-81. The Aces could credit this win to import Robert Dozier, who finished the game with 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks, doing a lot better than how he did against Rain or Shine.
As for the Barako Bull Energy Cola, it’s obvious that they are thriving under the capable hands of the team’s new consultant Rajko Toroman. We may not be used to seeing them leading the scoreboard, but now we’re seeing what they are capable of as they utilize a new system. In their last game, they shocked Global Port by forcing the game into over time, even if the Batang Pier were leading by 10 points with only 1:59 left in the game. Barako ended up grabbing the win at 98-88.
Now, let’s look at Alaska’s keys to the game:
1. Stopping the two J’s – Josh Urbiztondo and Jonas Villanueva have been flourishing within their new team, with Urbiztondo averaging 20.5 points, 7 rebounds, while Villanueva puts up 17 points and 3.5 rebounds. It’s crucial for Alaska to limit their productivity if they want to take the lead.
2. Continued production from Dozier – Dozier, who proved that his mediocre performance in the Aces’ first game was merely first-game jitters, needs to continue leading the team. Of course, he will always have Calvin Abueva and Cyrus Baguio for scoring support, so he can feel free to just relax and play his game.
3. Determination, determination, determination – With both teams vying for the top spot, the determination and mental toughness of each and every player from both teams is very important. Alaska should take great care not to relax especially since they are going against a victory-hungry team that hasn’t had a good standing in quite a while.
It’s a pretty tough call since both teams are playing so well, but I will have to go with Alaska for this one due to their deeper line-up.