FIRST CRACK

By: Calvin D. Cordova January 24,2016 - 03:33 AM

Alaska Aces get first of four chances of bagging crown, duel with San Miguel Beermen in Game 4 of PBA PH Cup Finals

San Miguel Beer's Alex Cabagnot is pinned by the defense of Alaska's Noy Baclao (left) and Vic Manuel in Game 3 of the PBA Ph Cup Finals last Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum. (INQUIRER PHOTO)

San Miguel Beer’s Alex Cabagnot is pinned by the defense of Alaska’s Noy Baclao (left) and Vic Manuel in Game 3 of the PBA Ph Cup Finals last Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum. (INQUIRER PHOTO)

Game today
Philsports Arena
5 p.m.- Alaska vs. San Miguel Beer
Game 5, Best-of-7 Finals
Alaska leads series, 3-0

Series Recap
Game 1
ALA 100, SMB 91
Game 2
ALA 83, SMB 80
Game 3
ALA 82, SMB 75

The Alaska Aces take their first of four cracks at a title that has eluded them for the past 16 years as they look to finish off the defending champions San Miguel Beermen in today’s  Game 4 of the 41st PBA Philippine Cup Best-of-Seven Finals at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

With a commanding 3-0 series lead, the Aces are just one win away from bagging their 15th championship crown and their first All-Filipino title since 2000.

Alaska is also so close to winning a crown for the first time under American coach Alex Compton, who took over in May 2014.

Slowed down by the absence of top center June Mar Fajardo, San Miguel is in danger of losing the crown it won against the same Alaska squad last year.

Despite the absence of Fajardo, Alaska still scrambled in winning the first three games of the series.

Alaska had to wipe out a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to win Game 1, 100-91, then had to fend off San Miguel’s endgame fightback before escaping with an 83-80 victory in Game 2.

Alaska also needed a strong fourth quarter performance before surviving San Miguel in Game 3, 82-75.

Stepping up big time in the series for Alaska is Vic Manuel, who bagged the Best Player of the Game honors in each of every game.

Hounded by foul trouble, Manuel struggled early in Game 3 but got going when Alaska needed him the most.

“Sinabi lang sa akin nila coach at ng mga assistants na pagbalik ko sa court, makukuha ko rin yung laro ko,” said Manuel, who only had six points and five rebounds in the first three quarters.

Manuel finished Game 3 with 17 points, 11 coming in the decisive fourth period.

“Nung pagka-shoot nung fourth quarter, umpisa nun, sabi ko tuloy-tuloy na ito,” said Manuel.

Though Alaska needs just one win to wrap up the series, Manuel said and the rest of the team are not letting their guards down.

“Di ko pa rin masasabi. Hangga’t di namin nakukuha yung championship, di namin masasabi. Pag champion na kami, dun pa lang namin masasabi na tapos na,” he said.

Manuel maintained Alaska will be battle ready whether or not Fajardo will finally suit up after suffering a knee injury in Game 6 of the San Miguel-Rain or Shine semifinal series.

“Yung ginagawa namin, kahit andyan si June Mar o wala, iisa lang ang preparation namin sa kanila. Talagang laro lang kami. Ibibigay lang namin yung best namin para manalo kami,” added the six-foot-four Manuel.

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TAGS: Alaska Aces, basketball, PBA, San Miguel Beermen

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