Can Cone Stop Alaska’s Streak?

The last time Alaska won its first six games was during the 2009 Philippine Cup with Tim Cone as coach.

The Aces will try to match that feat albeit with hands full as they go up against their former coach who is now calling the shots for defending champion San Mig Coffee.

Obviously, that only makes their 7:30 p.m. encounter today in the PBA Commissioner's Cup more interesting - if not an intriguing one.

But that's good for the league since officials expect another big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Aces determined to prove that they have already moved on with young Luigi Trillo as mentor.

Cone, who has made Alaska his second home after steering the franchise to 13 championships in 23 years at the helm, acknowledges that the Aces are playing at a different level, saying: "It's going to be tough going. Alaska is playing at a very high level with great confidence."

While Alaska is on a roll, San Mig, according to Cone, is still trying to steady itself after a turbulent start.

"We are still trying to get our feet under us after a poor start," said Cone yesterday, referring to his team's 0-3 start before finally scoring back-to-back wins last week.

The Coffee Mixers ended their slump with a 90-82 win over Talk 'N Text before downing Globalport, 91-84 in Naga City last Saturday.

Again the Texters, the Mixers rode on the heroics of comebacking import Denzel Bowles who collected 29 points, 23 rebounds and three shot blocks in 42 minutes of action. He scored 18 points, got seven rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes versus the Batang Pier.

Trillo said the presence of Bowles has made San Mig a very tough customer saying: "Denzel Bowles really changes that team."

Trillo was quick to point out that San Mig is not just about Bowles.

"The thing in SMC is it has good one-on-one players but they always find a way to play together and share the load. It is never about one person in that team. People forget that this core won the championship last year," said Trillo.

The young Alaska mentor, of course, is referring to Yap, Marc Jean Pingris, Peter June Simon, Joe Devance, Rafi Reavis, Yancy de Ocampo and Mark Barroca.

Equally exciting is the 5:15 game between Air21 and Meralco, which is coming off a pulsating 90-89 come-from-behind win over the Batang Pier last Feb. 24.

In that Sunday game, Meralco leaned on Sunday Salvacion's buzzer-beating trey to pull off that win.


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