Alaska finding ways to survive without injured key players

Alaska is giving Rain or Shine all it can handle in their 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals showdown and veteran guard Cyrus Baguio believes the Aces, even without their several vital cogs anew, will continue to do so on Wednesday’s Game 6 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“May kasabihan nga na ‘pag gusto mo, may paraan. Pero ‘pag ayaw mo maraming dahilan,” said the 6-foot-2 Baguio on Tuesday after the Aces’ usual closed-door practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.

Alaska will welcome pesky guard Ping Exciminiano back in the fold after recovering from a sprained knee but will continue to miss the likes of starting playmaker JVee Casio and bruising forward Vic Manuel due to various sorts of injuries.

But Baguio, 35, admitted the Aces aren’t using those as an excuse, convinced they have ample plethora of warm bodies which can hold their ground against the suddenly struggling Elasto Painters.

“Pwede namin sabihin na wala si ano eh. Hindi ka talaga mananalo psychologically. Pero kumpleto naman kami,” he said, adding the support being provided by rookie Kevin Racal and sophomore Rome De La Rosa has given the Aces the needed lift in their back-to-back victories.

“Nandyan ‘yung mga rookies namin. Nag-step up si Racal, si Rome. Laban pa rin naman kami,” assured the former University of Santo Tomas star. “Siguro kung apat na lang yung matira sa amin, ‘yun yung pwede na kami mag-give up. Pero kumpleto pa naman kami.

“Dapat mag-step up ka kasi masasayang lang kung gagamitin ka tapos wala kang ma-contribute. Game Six na ‘to,” he added.

While they have started to expose some chinks on the Painters’ armor, Baguio believes the pressure remains on the Aces. “Kailangan pa rin namin manalo ng dalawang beses. Mababalewala ‘yung dalawang panalo namin kung magpapatalo kami bukas,” he noted.

“Siguro kung natalo namin sila, nandun siguro ‘yung pressure (sa kanila), patas na rin kami.

But Baguio is convinced the longer the series goes, the better the Aces’ chances are, thanks to the presence of import Rob Dozier and do-it-all wingman Calvin Abueva, the reigning Best Player of the Conference awardee.

“Oo naman, lalo na kapag nananalo kami. Tumataas ‘yung kumpiyansa namin. Du’n kami kumukuha ng (lakas),” he said. “Lalo na may advatange kami sa import. Fit na fit si Dozier sa amin, lalo na sa depensa. ‘Yun ang inaasahan namin, pati si Calvin, ang ganda pa ng nilalaro, so kami, kailangan suportahan na lang namin sila.” – By Jerome Lagunzad

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports