The Alaska Aces never imagined that they would still be playing on February 3, 2016 after they won 3 straight games to open the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Now, the pressure is on their shoulders to avoid a historic collapse in Game 7. It has been said that anything can happen in Game 7 and statistics should be thrown out of the window.
That is all fine and dandy but Alaska should also consider doing some things that should increase their chances of winning Game 7, thus, avoiding a monumental collapse in the history of the PBA.
Here are 5 things that Alaska should do to win it all:
1. Make perimeter shots
San Miguel Beer will still use their zone defense more often than not. Thus, the onus is on Alaska to take what the defense gives and make SMB pay by making their perimeter shots.
The Aces have the personnel to make trifectas (Baguio, Hontiveros, Jazul, Casio) so they should continue to launch those jumpers. The Aces should not hesitate taking an open shot because that will keep SMB’s defense honest.
If Alaska stops taking jumpers, SMB will surely clog the paint even more. Take note that even the great Michael Jordan was once quoted “you miss 100% of the shots you never take”.
Alaska must have the mindset, “If the shot is there and within your range, take it.”
2. Stay on the court
This series has been very physical especially since Alaska and SMB have faced each other in 3 of the past 4 conference finals. There is dislike and animosity brewing already. Pushing, shoving, elbowing and taunting are parts of the game.
However, Alaska has been called for more fouls and their players often get into foul trouble more than SMB. The Aces need to play defense smarter, hence, avoid taking unnecessary risks like reaching in and flopping.
Furthermore, the Aces need to keep their cool because there’s a higher probability that their guys will incur a technical foul and/or get ejected. Remember this; you cannot help your team win if you are not part of the game anymore.
3. Run, run and run.
The Aces have players who can run the floor and finish in transition even with contact (Banchero, Casio, Abueva, Manuel and Baguio). In this matter, Alaska should have the advantage over SMB.
Therefore, they need to make a more concerted effort to outrun and outhustle the Beermen. A live ball should be always treated as an opportunity to get a quick and easy basket especially since Alaska is having difficulty scoring against the half-court defense of SMB.
Orchestrating a faster offense will also free up more shots for the Aces from the perimeter. Alaska should focus their efforts into controlling the tempo and playing a faster pace of basketball at all times. They also play fewer minutes than SMB, so their players should have more energy to run.
4. Trust each other
The Aces are strong believers of the “We Not Me” mentality. This was evident during their dominating trek to the Finals. The guys were playing unselfish basketball where everyone touched the ball and the credit was given to the whole team.
On the contrary, it has been a slightly different story in the Finals. After 6 games, the Aces have only 2 more assists than the Beermen. Alaska has done more isolation plays than usual and the ball movement has gone stagnant. The Aces need to trust their teammates and their team system again. They need to correct those ASAP if Alaska wants to win their 15th overall title in the PBA.
5. Attack the paint
Alaska cannot settle for jumpers even if the zone defense allows that. The Aces should find more ways to penetrate and attack the paint when executing their half-court offense.
They could try more pick and roll plays using their two best players (Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva) as the screeners. They could also try some high-low post offense action that uses Sonny Thoss at the elbow while Manuel and Abeuva are in the low post waiting for a decent entry pass.
In addition, attacking the paint will most probably result into more fouls being called in Alaska’s favor. It would be very beneficial to them if key players from SMB get into foul trouble. — By Rolly Mendoza