Aces, Batang Pier in KO match

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Alaska and GlobalPort clash for the last quarterfinals seat in a knockout contest today in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

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The Aces and the Batang Pier collide at 6:30 p.m. and the winner claims the No. 8 spot in the next round plus the right to meet the top seed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

After a promising 4-0 start, the Aces of head coach Alex Compton fell flat in their last seven games, the last one a tough 98-102 overtime loss to Star that denied them the automatic entry in the quarterfinals.

Cory Jefferson of Alaska shoots past Mike Miranda of Phoenix during a PBA Commissioner’s Cup game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

Now, the Wilfred Uytengsu franchise tries to salvage what is left in their campaign and avoid a huge meltdown in the conference.

“Last chance. No excuses. It is time for our best,” said Compton, who saw a silver lining in their overtime loss to the Hotshots the last time out.

Compton felt that his players “are back” despite dropping the game as they showed a different energy and resiliency against the Star, who leaned on the clutch baskets from Paul Lee and Justin Melton to steal the game.

On the other hand, it has been a roller-coaster campaign for GlobalPort, which started the tournament with a 1-5 win-loss mark and won three of its last five games to get another crack for the quarterfinals slot.

Batang Pier head coach Franz Pumaren had to deal with personnel changes, as they were involved in the multi-player, multi-team deal that saw Sean Anthony, Bradwyn Guinto and Jonathan Grey donning GlobalPort uniform.

In return, Batang Pier lost veteran enforcer JR Quinahan (to NLEX) and Anthony Semerad (to TNT KaTropa).

Pumaren admitted the Aces are starting to rediscover their old form and they need to keep pace with them to stand a chance.

“We should try to keep at par with the intensity of Alaska. We have to execute well our game plan,” said Pumaren.

The winner of the KO match meets the Gins Kings on Tuesday. Ginebra holds a twice-to-beat advantage for finishing top after the elimination round.

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