Fighting for their playoff chances, Alaska will have a late but welcome reinforcement with the return of reliable forward Vic Manuel in the lineup.
Assistant coach Louie Alas confirmed the Aces have already reactivated Manuel in the rotation after his recovery from his right calf injury, just in time when they clash with NLEX in a crucial tiff for their passage to the quarterfinals.
“Yes, lalaro na siya against NLEX,” said Alas to FOX Sports over the phone.
But the soft-spoken Alas, speaking in behalf of head coach Alex Compton, stressed Manuel will just play limited minutes to avoid any setbacks on his rehabilitation.
Manuel, who suffered the same injury way back in their failed Commissioner’s Cup title run, played for three games this conference before going down anew.
“Anytime he can explode, pero ayaw naming ma-aggravate unlike dati, so we will manage his playing time,” he said.
Nonetheless, Alas braces for an all-out war against the Road Warriors, who already secured an outright berth after Wednesday’s results.
“This is a playoff game for us and we know it will not be easy, we know NLEX is a very tough team,” he stressed.
NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez, on the other hand, wants the Road Warriors to trea their final game in the eliminations as their rallying point heading to the playoffs.
Although it’s a no-bearing game for his wards, Fernandez emphasized they will soldier on against Alaska, given that the team they will face on the upper half are all formidable foes.
“Kino-consider namin ang Alaska as the stronger team in the PBA despite their record, so gusto namin makita kung paano kami lalaban sa quarterfinals,” he said. “We need to prepare ourselves mentality and psychologically.” – By Jason Mercene
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