MANILA, Philippines – The top-seeded Barangay Ginebra Kings will get the first of their two chances to advance to the PBA Philippine Cup semi-finals when they take on the Alaska Aces Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The crowd-favorite Kings have a twice-to-beat advantage after finishing at the top of the league standings for the first time in seven years, and they are highly favored to beat an Alaska team that is likely exhausted from playing a third game in four days.
The Aces are fired up for the showdown, however, after winning in do-or-die games on back-to-back nights, first against Barako Bull and then against Meralco.
Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo is relishing the opportunity to book a monumental upset.
“Yes, we are against a team that is the deepest in my mind on paper,” he told PBA.ph. “They have it all – talent, size, athleticism and depth. They have a good coaching staff. They have everything going for them.”
“But we are thankful for the opportunity to be in this position,” he added.
Trillo did acknowledge that they are in for a tough night, especially with injuries to key players, including reigning Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva.
“We will have to battle through attrition and some of our injuries, particularly (to) Calvin. We’re not the favorites here for sure, but the upset is worth battling for,” he said.
Abueva is doubtful for the game with a right foot injury, although the Aces won their past two games even with the former NCAA Most Valuable Player lodging few minutes.
Even without Abueva, Alaska can match up with Ginebra on the wings and in the backcourt, but their big men, Sonny Thoss and Gabby Espinas, will have their hands full with the Kings’ frontline of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.
Game time is at 8 p.m.