Both the Alaska Aces and the Meralco Bolts started the season with exciting wins. The Aces overpowered the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, despite a dominating performance from Bruno Sundov – the tallest player in league history at 7’3″. It was a come-from-behind win with Calvin Abueva hitting a crucial 3-pointer to tie the game at 81 all with 10 seconds left in the game. After Abueva blocked Sundov from behind, Cyrus Baguio then went coast-to-coast for the game winning layup, leading the Aces to their first win, 83-81. On the other hand, the Bolts, led by import Eric Dawson’s 37 point performance, beat the defending champions Talk n’ Text, 99-92.
As the two winning teams face each other tomorrow, we can look forward to a good match up between Cyrus Baguio and Mac Cardona — both of them have the same playing style. Both players like to slash and attack the defense off-the-dribble. We also have the matchup between Calvin Abueva and Cliff Hodge – both hustle players. They like to do the dirty work – focusing on rebounds, steals, and blocks. As for the rookies, we can look forward to watching the matchup of Aldrich Ramos and former PBA D-League MVP Vic Manuel. Since it’s the second game, it will be nice to see how well they fit in with their respective team’s systems.
What are our keys to the game?
1. Stopping Eric Dawson – Dozier will be the man tasked to limit Dawson’s production. Now that we’ve seen what Dawson can do when he dominated the game against TNT scoring 37 points and corralling 14 rebounds, it’s very important for the Aces to figure out how to stop him. Meralco operates their offense around him in the post. The result was a dominant 4th quarter where he used a series of spin moves and footwork to drop 16 points against TNT.
2. Continued production from Sonny Thoss – Thoss poured in 17 points last game, mixing jumpers and cuts to the baskets. This will help ease the pressure on Robert Dozier, who contributed 21 points as well. Calvin Abueva and Cryus Baguio will always find a way to produce. Especially Abueva — who always finds a way to contribute even if he isn’t scoring — evidenced by his 14 rebounds despite struggling from the field. Thoss must do the same thing — be consistently impactful on the game.
3. Intensity – The Aces should match the intensity of Meralco if they want to grab their second win. It was clear that Meralco wanted to prove the doubters wrong. A lot of people started pegging Meralco as a severely weakened team after trading away Sol Mercado to the GlobalPort. It’s yet to be seen if this type of production can continue but for one game, the Bolts were clearly motivated and playing aggressive. In fact, the Bolts were so aggressive during their bout against Talk n’ Text that they shot 50% from the 2-point field goal range while the Aces only shot 36%.
On the other hand,
As mentioned above, confidence is key and both teams started the season with confidence-boosting wins. Expect an energy-filled game not only because of the imports but also from Calvin Abueva and Cliff Hodge who’s games almost perfectly mirror each other. If the Aces allow Eric Dawson to play as he did last game, then the Meralco Bolts will probably get their second win on Wednesday.