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Aces, Beermen eye 3-1 cushion

Aces, Beermen eye 3-1 cushion

by Zean Macamay
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 18:38


Games Today: (Cuneta Astrodome)

5:00 p.m. – Derby Ace vs. San Miguel Beer
7:30 p.m. – Alaska vs. Talk ‘N Text

HALFWAY fulfilled to a series’ triumph against the top-ranked team, and getting the rest it needed so much, Alaska now goes for the win that may just end up as the killer blow.

“We’ll need to continue to find a way and follow up our last win,” said Aces’ coach Tim Cone. “Usually the team that can win back-to-back in a series will win it.”

Absolutely not the fancied one coming into the semi-finals but surprisingly in control, Alaska tonight shoots for a commanding 3-1 lead over Talk ‘N Text and move on the threshold of a shocking result in Game Four of their Final Four showdown in the PBA Fiesta Conference at the Cuneta Astrodome.

“The good news is we had a couple of days to refresh and now we can play them on even terms,” said Cone. “This is good basketball. We’re playing so hard and it’s great we’re staying out there and battling out there and giving ourselves opportunities.

“Everyone thought that we were going to be blown out by Talk ‘N Text.”

From the looks of it, it’s the Tropang Texters who are definitely in deep trouble.

Alaska played Game Three Sunday trailing most of the way. In the end, LA Tenorio, who only had two points through 47 minutes, scored the Aces’ last seven points in a brilliant turn-around that carried the franchise to a 90-86 victory.

Diamon Simpson collected 31 points and 20 rebounds in that win, and the Aces outscored the Texters by 25 points at the free-throw line, numbers that obviously did not escape the meticulous eyes of TNT coach Chot Reyes, who is eyeing to give the ball club its first ever championship in a tournament with imports.

Reyes pin-pointed the way Simpson outplayed Shawn Daniels, and how Alaska got away with numerous attempts at the stripe. If the Texters can’t stop any of those two from happening again, the chances are slim in tying the series, according to Reyes.

“We lost Game Three because Simpson thoroughly dominated Daniels,” said Reyes. “”And they took 34 free throws to our 13. If we’re able to solve at least one of those, then we’ll have a chance in Game Four.”

Daniels, an import not necessarily known for his offense, only had four points and nine rebounds in Game Three.

Mac-Mac Cardona, who missed Game Two in Talk ‘N Text’s 100-94 triumph after getting married, also was a huge flop. Reyes decided not to start the shooting guard in Game Three and eventually lost grasp of the rotation, seeing action for only 11 minutes and producing six points.

“Mac-Mac may be out of his rhythm right now, but he’s the kind of guy that when he finds his rhythm, he changes the game, makes you lose your focus. So we expect to see of Mac-Mac in the next games,” said Cone.

The pressure to steer a star-studded team to the Finals is slowly piling up on Reyes, who has already guided the Texters to a franchise-best 13-game winning streak in the eliminations and the best record at 13-5.

San Miguel Beer likewise guns for a 3-1 lead over Derby Ace, hoping that the momentum of its splendid, come-from-behind 74-70 win in Game Three can be carried on.

The Beermen fell behind by as many as 17 points to the Llamados in their previous outing, but mustered enough strength and focus to pull off the win despite Gabe Freeman sitting most of the time at the bench because of foul trouble.

This is the very same situation Derby Ace faced in the Philippine Cup. But the Llamados won the next three games to advance to the championship series against Alaska and eventually the title via a rare sweep.

To win, Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio is hoping that they find their touch on offense.

“We all for a fact that we can’t win against San Miguel if we don’t score,” said Gregorio. “But we’re still upbeat about our chances. Game Four is crucial. We don’t want to be down 1-3.”

The Llamados, after scoring 45 points in the first half in Game Three, were held to only 25 in the second half, a conference low and a season-tying low. James Yap went without a field goal in the final 14:05 of the game, and no other local other than Don Allado (10 points) scored in double-digits for the Philippine Cup champions.