It’s game day and Alaska is looking to get back to .500. With Globalport being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, Meralco nearing elimination as well, and Alaska having almost zero hope to get a top-4 seed, the remaining two games for Alaska is all about positioning. They’ll still need to win one of the remaining two games, but all of that will be about trying to matchup with the team they have the best chance at beating two games in a row.

Let’s examine the standing first


Wins Losses W/L%


5 2 .714


5 2 .714


5 2 .714


5 3 .625


5 3 .625


4 4 .500


3 4 .429


3 5 .375


2 6 .250


1 7 .125

Among the possible Top 4 candidates (GIN, SMC, TNT, ROS, A21 and SMB) — I think the best matchup for Alaska is San Mig Coffee and A21. No disrespect to both teams but Alaska has the best chance at moving to the semis against those two teams because of their matchup (both are mediocre offensive teams with a good to great defensive system).

The good thing about this is that the Mixers and Air 21 have a really good chance at finishing first or second while Alaska is probably going to be seventh or eighth. For that to happen, they’ll have to first mathematically eliminate the Bolts from the discussion with a win today. Let’s look at the keys to the game.

Keep Ginebra to one shot per possession

I’ve already elaborated how Alaska’s biggest hurdle this season is defense. In their wins, they only allow 100.5 points per 100, in their losses (removing the flukey #RedWedding game) they allow 106.5 points per 100. It’s like night and day.


It’ll be up to Walker and Abueva to keep guys out of the glass (Photo Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billiones)



100.5 49.8% 14.7% 76.2% 23.5%

Loss (without ROS)

106.5 52.4% 13.5% 74.2% 25.1%

They’re better across all defensive factor (shooting, forcing turnovers, rebounding their misses, giving up free throws). Among the four, the one thing they should concern themselves with is rebounding. Ginebra rebounds more than a third of their misses (35.2 percent). That’s the one thing that’s keeping Ginebra’s offense afloat. Their triangle offense isn’t up to par with San Mig Coffee (DUH) but between Slaughter (13.4 percent ORB%), Mason (11.7 percent), Jay-R Reyes (12.9 percent) and Ellis (8.9 percent), Ginebra can just grind games to a virtual pulp with relentless attacks on the glass.

It is up to Walker (24.7 percent DRB%), Thoss (18.5 percent), Abueva (19.3 percent) and Manuel (19.5 percent) to shoulder the load of boxing those big and/or athletic Ginebra players out of position. Espinas, well below average by rebounding just 15.7 percent of all available defensive rebounds, has to step up big time since he’ll be matched up with either Mason or Slaughter.

Passing is Key

Against Ginebra, however, it won’t be just about playing defense. Against the best defensive team in the league (90.7 points allowed per 100), even Alaska’s above-average offense will be tested. But they have a chance at trotting out a good offensive game, even against the best defensive team in the league. Alaska’s offense is built on high risk, high reward decisions. When it rewards, it rewards bountifully (against TNT, Alaska scored 124 points per 100). When the risk materializes, it materializes B-A-D-L-Y (against ROS, Alaska scored 73.3 points per 100). This is because Alaska likes to gamble with passes in traffic or with cross court passes. Their actions out of the post involves passes that thread three or four outstretched limbs (either to the corner on a flare screen or through a cross screen for a pinch post action).

If they can work those passing lanes, they can get quality shots. This won’t be much of a problem against a Ginebra team that likes to play it conservatively (sticking to their man on the weak side) that forces few turnovers (10.5 percent, one of the lowest figures in the league). Once they get quality shots, it’s all in the stars (and maybe some #Puso in as well). Getting quality shots, that’s all you can ask from any team.


For the second (or third) straight game, the key is to NOT foul. Coach Alex plays a tight nine-man rotation. Getting into early foul trouble throws off the rhythm of Coach Alex’ preferred minute distribution.

Another thing — foul trouble will be huge against a team that draws a lot of shooting fouls like Ginebra. Freebies for a team that struggles to score in the half court? Not the best idea.

I think Alaska has a chance of winning this. It’s not the best matchup, but it’s also not the worst. For me, the most important thing will be Alaska’s defensive rebounding. They get that part down, it’ll cascade into good things. Getting constantly outrebounded has a psychological effect that affects not only your entire defense. Box out early, set the rhythm and get that win.