December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Alaska, TNT shoot for win number five

THE ALASKA Aces and TNT KaTropa shoot for win number five today in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup that will help them fortify their push for a quarterfinal spot.

Currently joint third in the mid-season PBA tournament with identical 4-1 records, the Aces and KaTropa go into battle against the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters (2-4) and GlobalPort Batang Pier (1-4), respectively, in the double-header set at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Alaska and Phoenix engage in the 4:15 p.m. curtain-raiser while TNT and GlobalPort get it on in the 7 p.m. main game.

The Aces, which absorbed their first loss in their last game, are being towed by import Cory Jefferson with averages of 31.8 points, 13.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Gilas Pilipinas pool member Calvin Abueva has been good for 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists while big man Sonny Thoss norming 10.6 points and 4.4 rebounds.

“Cory [Jefferson] has been a big help to us with his solid play. The locals, too, are doing their part but there is still room for improvement for us,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.

Alaska’s opponent, Phoenix, meanwhile, has lost two straight and is angling to get back on the winning track so as not to lose much ground in the race.

The Fuel Masters last lost to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Holy Wednesday where they had the rag pulled from under them, 96-94.

Despite having seven players score seven points or more, led by import Jameel McKay’s 27 points, to go along with 18 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, Phoenix failed to prevent Rain or Shine from coming from behind and take the win.

Winner of its last four matches after starting the tournament with a loss, TNT looks to stretch its Commissioner’s Cup streak against GlobalPort.

The KaTropa return to action off a narrow win over the Mahindra Floodbuster, 86-84.

Import Donte Greene took command in TNT’s shaky win with 24 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks with Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro providing help with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Notwithstanding the win, TNT coach Nash Racela said their performance still left much to be desired and that they hope they can change their ways as the tournament moves on.

“After the last game, I told the team that this is the time to develop good habits in the game. Obviously we didn’t do that today. We still committed a lot of mistakes. Good thing we’re getting wins despite playing bad,” said Mr. Racela.

Out to crush TNT’s streak extension bid is GlobalPort, which finally barged into the win column last time around.

Replacement import Malcolm White is expected to banner the Batang Pier’s cause with averages of 28 points, 16.5 rebounds and four blocks since taking over from original choice Sean Williams, while getting help from the backcourt duo of Stanley Pringle (21 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 3.8 apg) and Terrence Romeo (18.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 6 apg). -- Michael Angelo S. Murillo