Aces in must-win mode against Road Warriors


    ALASKA is bent on living and fighting at least another day when it tangles with NLEX today at the end of the PBA Governors Cup eliminations at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

    San Miguel Beer and TNT collide in the nightcap, with the outcome also having an effect on the fate of at least a couple of other teams going to the eight-team quarterfinals that start Sunday.

    A win by the Beermen will boost them to fourth but they could go as high as third should they prevail by at least 13 points while relegating the Ginebra Kings to fourth and the KaTropa to fifth.

    The worst SMB could wind up with is a 6-5 record which would tie it with Magnolia, but the former takes fifth due to its earlier win over the defending champion Beermen.

    In case of a TNT win, it would take fourth behind Ginebra and drop SMB to fifth. The KaTropa could actually get No. 2 if they and the Road Warriors emerge victorious and land third if Alaska wins.

    Teams that finish among the top four are rewarded with a twice-to-beat advantage over their lower-ranked opponents in the next round where No. 1 takes on No. 8, No. 2 duels No. 7, No3 tangles with No. 6 and Nos. 4 and 5 collide.
    Where it lands is not a problem for NLEX.

    Long assured of the top seeding following a five-game streak and back-to-back losses by TNT, the Road Warriors still want a win to regain momentum they lost following a 94-102 loss to NorthPort last week.

    Alaska needs to win its fourth straight game to clinch a quarterfinals berth and tie NorthPort, which had ended the eliminations with a 5-6 slate, for seventh.

    By virtue of their 106-99 win over the Batang Pier last Nov. 3, the Aces will secure No. 7, relegate the former to eighth and eliminate 4-7 Columbian. Rain or Shine also ended the eliminations with the same record but gets relegated to 10th due to an inferior quotient.

    An Alaska loss will give NorthPort seventh and relegate the former into a knockout game on Friday with Columbian for the last quarterfinals berth.

    Aces coach Jeff Cariaso is simply thankful enough that his side is given the opportunity to automatically make it, considering they started the tournament at 0-5 and languished in the cellar for more than a month before fully coming alive.

    “We are very blessed to be given a chance to make the playoffs,” said Cariaso on the eve of the match.

    “We know we are going up against the hottest and No. 1-seeded team so we must bring our absolute A-game,” added Cariaso.

    “We look forward to a tough battle. All I can say is we’ve been preparing well and our attitude remains the same: Find a way to live another day.”

    Alaska may have to do it without Jeron Teng, who injured his right knee in the course of a 105-102 win over Phoenix Pulse last week and is still listed as day-to-day.