Locals were supposed to take the backseat in this 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
That hasn’t been the case even as the Alaska Aces and the TNT KaTropa battle for league leadership when they clash 4:30 pm today Sunday, May 13 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The Aces rely on their belligerent pressure defense which smother opponents. TNT KaTropa has been relying on local star Jayson Castro, and not their import, to lead them.
The Aces (2 wins, 1 loss) will be looking to follow up their lopsided, 134-103, rout of Columbian Dyip last Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum against the unbeaten KaTropa (3-0).
The other teams include the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (3-1), the Meralco Bolts (3-1), the Globalport Batang Pier (2-1), Columbian Dyip (3-2) and the Phoenix Fuelmasters (2-2).
Bringing up the rear are Barangay Ginebra (1-2), the NLEX Road Warriors (1-3), the San Miguel Beermen (0-1), the Magnolia Hotshots (0-1) and the Blackwater Elite (0-5).
The Aces smothered the Dyip right from the get-go to post a lopsided, 134-103, rout last Friday, May 4. The Aces terrorized the Dyip with their pressure defense virtually settling the outcome of the match as early as halftime.
Before that rout the Aces posted a similar demolition of a hapless Blackwater squad, 93-74 last April 29. The Aces started strong, lost a big 30-point lead and then stepped on the gas again in the fourth period to post the victory pulling away.
Other than its smothering defense the Aces have also relied on big man Vic Manuel to post up inside the paint and score at will when the Aces needed to score.
Alaska’s hot-shooting import Tony Campbell, who can score from anywhere on the floor, will help carry the offensive load. Campbell is deadly from three-point range and can slash to the basket when defenders try to close out. He can even seal inside the paint and score from the post.
Also helping out are Alaska veterans Calvin Abueva, Jvee Casio, Sonny Thoss, Chris Banchero.
TNT’s Castro came through with an import-like performance last Sunday to capture the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week in the Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
With American reinforcement Jeremy Tyler held down to just two points, Castro delivered the telling blows for TNT in the second half as the Katropa dumped Barangay Ginebra, 96-92.
Nicknamed the “Blur”, Castro was in his element in the second half. He scored eight points in the third canto, before knocking down back-to-back triples in the last period in a telling 11-1 exchange to pull away for good.
The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay finished with 27 points, five assists, three steals and a rebound in 28 minutes of action as he beat GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle and Sean Anthony, Rain or Shine forward Jay Washington, Alaska’s Vic Manuel, Meralco’s Chris Newsome and Mike Tolomia and Phoenix sharpshooter Matthew Wright and Willy Wilson for the weekly citation.
The Aces and TNT seem determined to finish well this import flavored conference. Ironically, their locals and not their imports are leading the charge.
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