CONE FACES FAMILIAR FOE
Grandslam coach takes on former team as PBA semis starts
7 p.m.- Alaska vs. Star
Two-time grandslam winner coach Tim Cone once again crosses path with his former team in a series that promises a lot of fireworks as the defending champions Star Hotshots and the Alaska Aces begin their best-of-five semifinal duel of the 40th PBA Governors’ Cup tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.
Cone is facing Alaska, the team he steered to 13 championships including a rare grandslam in 1996, for the fifth time in a playoff series.
Cone won his second grandslam with the Purefoods franchise, while Alaska managed to win just one crown in the post-Cone era.
Alaska won its first playoff battle against Cone in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, where the Aces went on to win the crown under former head coach Luigi Trillo.
Since then, Cone has been dominating his former team after winning their quarterfinal duels in 2013 Governors’ Cup, 2014 Commissioner’s Cup and this season’s Commissioner’s Cup.
Alaska took the easier route to the semifinals after emerging the number one seed in the eliminations. Armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, the Aces needed just one game to oust the Barangay Ginebra Kings, 114-108.
The Hotshots, for their part, were seeded fifth in the quarters had to overcome a twice-to-win disadvantage against the fourth-seeded GlobalPort Batang Pier.
Star first manhandled GlobalPort 126-73 and followed it up with a 101-94 win last Sunday.
In their lone encounter this conference, Alaska prevailed over Star, 92-86.
“They’re playing a high-level basketball and a high-level defense. They’re a formidable team. They have it all in their lineup,” said Cone.
Both squads have a solid local crew with James Yap, Peter June Simon, Mark Barroca, Marc Pingris, Joe Devance and Alex Mallari leading the Hotshots. The Aces have Jvee Casio, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros, Chris Banchero, Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva.
The protagonists also boast of prolific imports.
Alaska’s Travis Romeo is good for 24.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals a game, while Star’s Marqus Blakely averages 22.5 points, 13.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.6 blocks per outing.
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