Kings, Aces meet in vital tiff

Delroy James
MERALCO’s new import Delroy James goes for a shot against Magnolia defenders during first half action in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Petron Blaze Saturday Game Special at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City. PBA Images

Barangay Ginebra collides with Alaska while San Miguel Beer plays a dangerous Columbian in a pair of crucial matches in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings and the Aces are both struggling to get out of the middle of the standings, and the situation worsened for both teams following crucial defeats.

The Gin Kings lost to Phoenix 111-103 last June 28 while the Aces lost two straight, the first one to the Fuel Masters, 78-76, last June 15, and the second one at the hands of San Miguel Beer, 119-107 last June 21.

As a result, the Gin Kings and the Aces found themselves stranded in the middle of the standings at 4-4 in a tie with Phoenix for fifth to seventh places.

Incidentally, Ginebra and Alaska were finalists in the same conference in 2013, with the latter sweeping the former, 3-0, for what was its last taste of the championship in the pro league.

With only nine playing dates left in the single-round elimination, teams are definitely going all out every game to bolster their respective playoff bids in the midseason conference.

As for the Gin Kings and the Aces, both are hard-pressed to win in the 6:45 p.m. tussle to stay in strong contention for at least a spot in the best-of-three quarterfinals.

The Aces are somehow enjoying fresh legs as they are playing for the first time in eight days, while the Gin Kings are somewhat still having some fatigue following their bruising encounter with the Fuel Masters three days ago.

The Gin Kings lost despite a 26-point second-half explosion by Justin Brownlee and the ejection of Phoenix coach Louie Alas halfway through the fourth. In his second outing as a Gin King, Stanley Pringle struggled with 4-of-13 clip on over 38 minutes of action.

Meanwhile, the Beermen try to rebound from the 118-82 spanking they received from Magnolia last Wednesday as they play the Dyip in the first game at 4:30 p.m.

The Beermen are struggling near the cellar on 2-4 slate, and thus need every win they could get in their last five games in the elimination to land a spot in the best-of-3 quarterfinal series.

Teams that finish 7th and 8th need to win twice over the top two teams in the next round, and the Beermen are looking to avoid finishing either 7th or 8th.

"We all know our target, which is not only to make it to the next round but be in the top two," said SMB coach Leo Austria.

"Realizable pa naman iyon, pero we have to take care of business in our last games," he added.