Veteran Alaska guard Cyrus Baguio stressed that the Aces just need to hurdle the psychological barrier in order to turn the tables against a fresh and well-oiled Rain or Shine side in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
The Aces fell by as much as 14 early in the first half, managed to regain the lead briefly in the 3rd quarter, before fading in the end as they surrendered Game 1, 105-97 Friday night.
Alaska rode on the hot-shooting hands of former PBA Best Import Rob Dozier, who finished the Finals opening game with a new PBA career-high 41 points on 18-of-22 field goal shooting.
“Feeling ko okay pa naman kami, pero sana psychological lang yung sa pagod kasi ang tingin namin, ang dami naming laro,” said Baguio who scored 12 of his 14 points in the 3rd quarter of Game 1.
“Pero tingin ko diyan, lalaban pa rin kami.”
But the 10-year PBA veteran admitted that beating Rain or Shine is easier said than done.
With almost every Rain or Shine player capable of shooting from the three-point zone, the challenge now is how Alaska can get back quickly on defense.
“Mahirap talaga depensahan ang Rain or Shine kasi pati big men nila tumitira ng 3-points,” observed Baguio, nicknamed “Skyrus” for his ability to hang in mid-air to get a shot.
“Ang hirap ng rotation kasi kaming mga guards, medyo hirap dahil nasa kabilang kanto pa kami biglang aakyat kami at mag-full rotation,” he added.
Without 3 injured key players in JV Casio, Vic Manuel and Eric Menk, Alaska coach Alex Compton had to dig deep in his bench to make sure the Aces can keep up with Rain or Shine’s up-tempo game.
In Game 1 though, Alaska’s best defensive effort fell short after allowing Rain or Shine to knock down 14 three-point shots as well as collect 17 fastbreak points.
On the other hand, Best Player leading candidate Calvin Abueva is confident that Alaska is capable of bouncing back in Game 2, set this Sunday.
“Hindi pa naman ito (Game 1) yung huling game. Best-of-7 naman kaya may adjustment pa na mangyayari,” said the “Beast”, who shot just 4-of-13 overall in Game 1 to finish with 9 points. – By Richard Dy
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