The Alaska Aces have yet to catch a break in the bubble, but they will give it a go again this Friday, when they take on the Magnolia Hotshots in an interesting battle between two of the most storied PBA franchises.
Catch this game live on October 17 at 6:45 PM, Manila time.
The Alaska Aces (0-2)
The Aces are still in search of their first win in the PBA bubble. After a 100-95 loss to the TNT Tropang Giga last Sunday, the Aces absorbed a 93-81 defeat at the hands of the Meralco Bolts on Wednesday.
With forward Kevin Racal done for the conference after suffering a serious knee injury in the TNT game, Alaska slotted Jeron Teng into the starting lineup, and the second-generation PBA star reciprocated head coach Jeff Cariaso’s trust by pumping out 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting against Meralco.
However, Mike Digregorio was nowhere to be found in that game, scoring just six points on an atrocious 1-of-13 shooting. It was an especially letdown performance for Digregorio, as he had 16 in his debut for the Aces against TNT. He will have to recapture that form in order to help the Aces offset the production of Paul Lee for the Hotshots.
The frontcourt is not a strength for the Aces, as they have yet to find a big man who can cover the void left by Sonny Thoss in the middle. And with Racal gone, that frontcourt just got even slimmer, though, Alaska still has a bruiser in Vic Manuel. The former PBL MVP is leading the Aces with 16.5 points.
The Magnolia Hotshots (1-1)
The Hotshots recovered from a 94-78 loss to the San Miguel Beermen in their conference opener by downing the NLEX Road Warriors in a spectacular come-from-behind 103-100 win last Wednesday.
The Hotshots came back from a 22-point deficit to win the game against NLEX, thanks in large part to their bench that poured in 55 points. Jio Jalalon was a force on both ends of the floor, as he scored 19 points to go with five steals in just 20 minutes off the bench. Banchero also had 19 points.
Magnolia’s bench will be a huge threat to Alaska. The Hotshots’ second stringers are averaging 47.0 points this conference, while Alaska’s relievers are putting up just 32.0 points per outing.
Paul Lee is pacing the Hotshots this conference with 18.5 points on 48 FG%. He is also making 47% of his shots from deep. Without one of their best perimeter defenders in Racal, it’ll be tougher for the Aces to contain Lee, who’s entered the bubble in superior shape despite the long offseason.
This will be an evenly contested match until the fourth quarter, but Magnolia will execute plays better when it matters the most. For one, they have a clear go-to guy in Lee. Magnolia wins this game, 95-90.