Game Tuesday (MoA Arena)
5:15 p.m. - San Mig vs Rain or Shine
Maybe it's the Beast in him, but there's something in Alaska Milk rookie Calvin Abueva that refuses to roll over and die against the most dreaded team in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Abueva had 20 points and 14 rebounds, picking himself up from every tackle and take-down with a smirk on his face and an attitude that wouldn't back down or wave a white flag.
His output provided strong back-up to sophomore point guard Jayvee Casio who drained five 3-pointers in scoring a team-high 22 points and leading the Aces to a series-tying 100-88 victory over the defending champion Talk 'N Text in their best-of-seven semifinal showdown at the Mall of Asia Arena late Friday night.
Game 3 is at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday also at the MOA Arena.
"We can't outscore Talk 'N Text. But in this game, we're able to play our tempo in the second half; we're able to establish Sonny Thoss at the paint and attack our match-up advantage," said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
"It's crucial we're able to tie it after two games. We're off for the next four days and we have the opportunity to refresh and see what adjustments we need to do for the next game."
The same holds true for the Tropang Texters. But instead of going off to the holidays with a morale-boosting 2-0 lead, they now are back in the drawing board wondering what they need to do to contain the Beast, as Abueva is known since his NCAA days at San Sebastian College, and the slippery Casio who has been giving both Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro fits.
Aggressive defense held TNT forward Ranidel de Ocampo and Alapag to a minimum, with the star Texters playmaker missing 10 of 11 shots.
But Trillo is careful not make too much noise over their breakout win and their success with Alapag.
"You don't want to wake up a sleeping dog. Jimmy didn't get his usual shots. Ranidel wasn't there either. We attacked him early and got him into foul trouble. If Ranidel was there, Talk n Text would've been a different team," Trillo pointed out.
Trillo doesn't want to dwell on the past either, refusing to touch lengthily on their disputed 66-65 loss in the opener.
"That's over and one with," he said when it was pointed out that Alaska could have been up two games to nil.
That would be in TNT coach Norman Black's mind, fully aware that Ryan Reyes' 3-pointer was what allowed them to steal Game 1 while Game 2 was simply Alaska dominating them.
Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss and Gabby Espinas combined for 40 points, 13 rebounds and five assists as the Aces took control, 89-78, after a 14-4 run engineered by Abueva and RJ Jasul.
Meanwhile, San Mig Coffee and Rain or Shine, tied at 1-1, clash in Game 3 on Christmas Day, hoping to find the ferocity on the day Christ was born to take a 2-1 lead in their own series.