Philippines sportsBattle-weary Aces eye 2-0 vs Beermen

By Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Having played 13 straight games in a month, Alaska Milk is looking forward to the rest days tomorrow and Tuesday.

But the Aces first want to make it two in a row over the San Miguel Beermen in their 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference best-of-seven title showdown.

Coach Tim Cone is convinced they would have a good shot at erecting a 3-0 lead Wednesday if they’re able to sustain the momentum of their Game One win Friday and repeat in Game Two today at the Araneta Coliseum.

Game Two is set at 6 p.m. with Philippine Dream Academy winner Bugoy providing entertainment at halftime.

“I don’t want to sound negative for my team, but obviously we took a lot to get Game One. We’ll just be out to try steal Game Two. If we can do that, we have two days to recover,” said Cone.

“We have to keep the game close and try to win in the end,” Cone added.

The Aces overcame a sluggish start with key runs in the second and fourth quarters as they drubbed the Beermen, 89-83, in the series opener Friday also at the Big Dome.

It’s a big turnaround from Alaska’s shaky stand versus San Miguel in their two previous meetings in the tournament.

“We’re a lot more confident. This team right now is not the same team in the eliminations. We feel we’re not the team that placed fourth in the elims,” said Cone.

The veteran Alaska mentor said his troops, finishing behind Talk n Text, San Miguel and Derby Ace in the elims, were hardened by their quarterfinals and semifinals playoffs with Ginebra and TnT. Both went the full distance.

“We’ve learned and grown. And that’s showing now. We’re ready to go,” said Cone.

San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen said they have to improve their execution if they’re to get back at Alaska tonight.

“Alaska is a very disciplined team. They execute their stuffs very well. Game One boiled down to that. While they executed very well, we, on the other hand, didn’t get the shots we wanted,” rued Tanquingcen.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with several errors. We turned the ball over 20 times and that’s crucial. It’s great opportunity for a good team like Alaska,” Tanquingcen added.

Diamon Simpson, who narrowly lost the Best Import award to Gabe Freeman, was dominant on both ends of the court firing away 28 points and snaring 21 rebounds.

But it was L.A. Tenorio who delivered the two dagger baskets – both from downtown – that took the life out of the mighty Beermen. His first three-pointer, with three minutes left in the tightly-fought, low-scoring contest, ignited an 8-0 closing run that shattered the game’s final deadlock and pushed the Aces to a 79-76 advantage. Another booming trey by the smart Alaska playmaker with 1:44 to go capped that searing blitz giving the Aces a comfortable 84-76 lead.

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