The Alaska Aces look to go over .500 for the first time in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup as they take on the Meralco Bolts. The Bolts, on the other hand, want to sustain their momentum following a huge win of their own.
Catch this game live on July 31 at 4:35 pm, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (3-1)
The Bolts are back to their winning ways. After suffering their first defeat of the season to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on July 24, Meralco recharged and took down the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters last Wednesday, 91-80.
Meralco leaned on the hot hands of Allein Maliksi and Chris Newsome against Phoenix, as they scored 24 and 23 points, respectively. Mac Belo exploded for 27 points in his Meralco debut during the Bolts’ win over the NorthPort Batang Pier but has gone silent of late. He hasn’t scored in double digits in any of the Bolts’ last three games.
The team is hoping he can finally get his rhythm back against Alaska. The Aces’ defense has been impressive this conference, but the Bolts can break that down with their combo of talented shot-creators and great ball movement. Meralco leads the PBA with a 70 AST% and is third with a 48.6 TS%.
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Raymond Almazan
The Alaska Aces (2-2)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: JVee Casio
- SG: Robbie Herndon
- SF: Jeron Teng
- PF: Abu Tratter
- C: Rodney Brondial
Alaska vented all its frustrations from back-to-back losses to the Magnolia Hotshots and Phoenix on the Elasto Painters last Wednesday, as the Aces crushed Rain or Shine to the tune of a 74-48 win.
Rain or Shine’s scoring output leaps off the page and looks like an anomaly, but Alaska’s defense is really that capable. For one, the Aces rebound the ball well. They are tops in the PBA this conference with a 52.9 TRB% and 86.6 DRTG, second overall. Their stout defense coupled with Meralco’s tendency to turn the ball over a lot could lead to plenty of easy baskets for Alaska this Saturday. Meralco is the worst in the league with a 16.6 TOV%.
Alaska’s outside shooting will also be a big thorn in the side of the Bolts. The Aces are No. 1 so far in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup with a 34.7 3FG%. Against Rain or Shine, the Aces got four threes on seven attempts from Mike DiGregorio and Rodney Brondial.
The Bolts have won all of their last three matches against Alaska, each by at least 10 points. However, this is a different Aces team, one that has a nice blend of youth and size in the frontcourt to go with nice outside shooting. Take the Aces to win by at least five points.