• Aces out to deliver coup de grace in Game 4

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    Gabby Espinas (No.27) of San Miguel Beer attempts to a pass the ball through the guard of Dondon Hontiveros (No.5) of Alaska in Game 2 of the best of seven finals of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Tuesday. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

    Gabby Espinas (No.27) of San Miguel Beer attempts to a pass the ball through the guard of Dondon Hontiveros (No.5) of Alaska in Game 2 of the best of seven finals of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Tuesday. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

    THE Alaska Aces will be aiming for a four-game sweep when they face defending champion San Miguel Beer today in Game 4 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
    Game time was set at 5 p.m.

    After beating San Miguel Beer in Game 1 (100-91) and Game 2 (83-80) at the Araneta Coliseum and Game 3 (82-75) in Lucena City, coach Alex Compton said that the Aces would finish the Beermen in Game 4. If Alaska won, it would be the team’s 15th overall title and the fourth in the Philippine Cup since joining the league in 1986.

    “We’re going to finish this series tomorrow [Sunday]. We’re going to put a lot of defensive pressure on San Miguel Beer just what we did in the first three games,” Compton told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Saturday. “My players really deserve this title.”

    “I don’t care if you score a lot in the stats sheet. Blocks and steals are the only defensive stats you are go-ing to see there but defense wins championship. We have to keep playing better defense than our previous games.”

    Compton said that he doesn’t think anymore of last year’s Philippine Cup and their Governors Cup fi-nals defeat to San Miguel Beer.

    “I’d rather be up 3-0 now than being down by one or two games. I’m not thinking about last year. My focus is to win this year’s first conference Philippine Cup title and we’re just a game of winning it,” added Compton.|

    Power forward 6’3 Vic Manuel led the Aces in their last three wins against the Beermen.
    In Game 1, Manuel matched his career-high 24 points and finished with 18 and 17 points in Game 2 and 3, respectively.

    “He really plays tremendous. I can’t say that he is unstoppable but he plays fantastic,” said Compton of Manuel. “Vic is an all-around scorer in the series. He scores well in fast break transition, takes a couple of jumper and plays well  in the post.”

    Besides Manuel, Alaska will also rely on Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, RJ Jazul, Jayvee Ca-sio, Chris Banchero, Eric Menk, Noy Baclao, Chris Exciminiano, Dondon Hontiveros, Tony Dela Cruz and Rome Dela Rosa.

    Despite being down 0-3 in the series, Beermen coach Leo Austria said that he is still unwilling to field the 6’10 June Mar Fajardo in Game 4 though the swelling on the latter’s left knee has already subsided.

    “He [Fajardo] is okay to go but I won’t take the risk of allowing him to play in Game 4 because he didn’t practice for 10 days which is not good. At the same time, June Mar is valuable not only for our team but also for the national team,” Austria told The Manila Times in a phone interview.

    Without Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, Jay-R Reyes Yancy De Ocampo, Alex Cabagnot Chris Ross, Chris Lutz, Ronald Tubid, Marcio Lassiter and Ryan Arana must step up for San Miguel Beer to foil Alaska’s four-game sweep attempt.

    “We have to keep fighting and treat this one game at a time,” said Austria. “There is a saying that to win a championship, you need to win four games. So far, they only won three in this series. I believe the players will step up this time.”

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