After a long hiatus to accommodate the Philippine Basketball Association All Star Week one of the most storied, most enduring rivalries in the PBA resumes when the Alaska Aces battle Barangay Ginebra in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup 6:45 p.m., today May 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Both squads are again title contenders this conference.
Ginebra (4 wins, 1 loss) is at third place behind the Meralco Bolts (7-1) and the San Miguel Beermen (5-1). They are followed closely by TNT KaTropa (6-2) and the Star Hotshots (5-2).
The Aces (4 wins, 2 losses) are in solo sixth place in the standings of this tightly contested conference. A victory propels them to at least a tie for a berth in the quarterfinals. A loss drops them to a tie with the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters (4-3).
The other teams include the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters (4-5), the Blackwater Elite (2-6), the GlobalPort Batang Pier (2-6), the Mahindra Floodbuster (1-7) and the NLEX Road Warriors (0-8).
After the 11-game elimination round of the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup the top eight teams advance to the quarterfinals with the top four enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage over the fifth to eighth place squads. The ninth to 12th place squads will be eliminated outright.
The Aces will try to arrest a two-game slide when they face Ginebra. Alaska bowed to the Fuel Masters, 86-94, in a defense-oriented game last April 21. Before that the Aces almost erased a 25-point deficit in the last five minutes but ran out of time to yield a scrambling 91-99 decision to the Meralco Bolts last April 8.
The last time these two teams met was in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Philippine Cup where the Aces could not take advantage of a twice-to-beat advantage and lost back-to-back games to Ginebra to bow out of the tournament.
The Aces lost a big lead and fell behind, rallied to cut the gap but were outsteadied at end game to lose to Ginebra, 81-85, on February 5. The Aces again lost to Ginebra, 97-108, February 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, to miss their second and final chance to advance to the Semifinals of the 2017 Philippine Cup
The Aces will be motivated to avenge those playoff losses.