THE fired-up Alaska Aces hope to clinch a semifinal seat when they face anew the Ginebra Kings, while B-Meg Derby Ace and Rain or Shine try to break their 1-1 tie Friday in game three of the best-of-five quarterfinal round of the 35th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces, enjoying a 2-0 lead, battle the Kings at 7:30 p.m. following the 5 p.m. encounter between the Elasto Painters and the Llamados.
With two straight victories, the Aces are again favored to sweep the Kings for the second straight time in a playoff after their 4-0 sweep over the same team in the semifinals of the 2010 Philippine Cup.
Despite their commanding lead, Alaska coach Tim Cone cautioned his players not to be overconfident, saying Ginebra is a strong team and could always forge a big comeback in the playoff.
“We will go out and try to play a solid game on Wednesday.
We will try to win again and make it to the semis, that’s really our goal,” said Cone after their 84-82 win over Ginebra on Sunday, which was a fitting follow-up of their 76-72 triumph on Friday.
Cone will again rely on Joe Devance, who scored the last four points of the Aces en route to moving just a win away from the semis and earn in the right to face top seed Talk ‘N Text in a best-of-seven affair.
If statistics has to be the basis, then it would be a gargantuan task for the Kings, as 21 of 22 teams, which took a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five since 1993, went to win the series.
The most recent was Purefoods over Rain or Shine in the 2010 Philippine Cup quarterfinal round.
In the other playoff match, odds are about between the Llamados and the Elasto Painters after a 79-69 victory of coach Caloy Garcia’s team, which tied the series, 1-1.
The win, which avenged their 102-108 setback in game one, at least enabled his players to regain their confidence. Garcia hopes for a follow-up victory to reverse the momentum of the battle in their favor. Garcia is hoping for their second semifinal appearance, a feat that may at least tie or surpass their 2009 Fiesta Cup campaign.
The winner between Derby Ace and Rain or Shine will advance into the semifinal round against second seed San Miguel Beer.