Former PBA Best Import Robert Dozier is sure to have his hands full defending Meralco’s wide-bodied reinforcement Arinze Onuaku when the Aces and the Bolts begin their Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal series Monday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But the former Memphis Tiger is the least bit worried, saying the Aces have always been successful with they play team defense.
“It’s gonna be difficult (to defend Onuaku) but we play team defense. It’s not gonna be one guy only, but play team defense so we’ll figure it out,” Dozier said on the eve of Alaska’s 7 p.m. series-opening game against the top-seed Meralco side.
The 6-foot-8 Dozier was just a spectator 2 weeks back when the Aces, then reinforced by standby import Shane Edwards, succumbed to the Bolts, in their only elimination-round meeting.
The game also saw the Aces miss 20 foul shots, practically shooting themselves on their foot.
“Not to say they (Bolts) aren’t a good team, but they fought hard, made big shots down the stretch and we missed 20 free throws, so that’s the biggest difference,” explained the defense-minded Alaska import.
On the other hand, Alaska lead assistant coach Louie Alas feels veteran slotman Sonny Thoss will have to reassert himself more at the post to make up for the loss of injured forward Vic Manuel.
The 6-foot-3 Manuel is expected to be out for the next 2 weeks due to a right calf strain he sustained last week in their mini-quarterfinal series against Tropang TNT.
“Kung isa or dalawang game, parang di mo mararamdaman, pero kapag mahaba ang series, hahanapin mo rin talaga ang main feed mo sa post which is si Vic yun,” shared Alas.
“Kaya si Sonny, kailangan mag-step up offensively though ilang games na iyan, kaya natutuwa kami sa kanya,” he added.
But matchup-wise, Alas noted that the Aces are in a much-better state than they were the last time out with Dozier patrolling the painted area.
For one, Alas mentioned they could play the 275-pound Onuaku at single coverage with Dozier, who may appear lean, but is a solid defender.
“Magandang matchup kasi parehong big man ang import namin. Compare mo dun sa first game namin, medyo different ito dahil nagkaroon kami ng problema sa first quarter nun with Onuaku,” shared Alas.
“But this time, hindi namin kailangan mag-double,” he added. “But I’m not saying kayang kaya namin manalo pero this time, mas malaki chance namin.” – By Richard Dy
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