Already without top forward Calvin Abueva and veteran center Sonny Thoss due to their respective injuries, Alaska will have to make do with a badly-decimated lineup against reigning back-to-back champion San Miguel Beer in their anticipated rematch on Saturday in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Still licking the wounds from a close 97-99 overtime loss to the NLEX Road Warriors last week, the Aces won’t have the services of four other rotational players anew in their 5 p.m. showdown with the Beermen, who are aching to recover from an 85-92 stunner dealt by Phoenix Fuel Masters last Wednesday night in Antipolo City.
Wingman Rome Dela Rosa will miss his second straight game as he continues to deal with a quadriceps tear, the same injury that’s bothering the 6-foot-2 Abueva, while center Noy Baclao sustained a knee injury against the Road Warriors and is expected to be out for at least eight weeks.
The Aces’ frontline, already missing the presence of the 6-foot-7 Thoss who is also sidelined by a knee injury for at least two weeks, will be another man down as the 6-foot-4 Manuel gets slapped with a one-game suspension for playing in “larong labas” without getting the green light from Alaska management.
Backup guard Ping Exciminiano will also be suspended for a game for doing the same erring act like Manuel.
“When you violate your PBA contract by participating in ‘larong labas’ there will be consequences,” stressed Alaska governor Dickie Bachmann said on Thursday afternoon.
“We need to send a message to all PBA players that violations like these are taken very seriously and have consequences.”
Bachmann, however, refused to disclose where Manuel and Exciminiano exactly played outside the pro league’s commission.
Despite being left with a 10-man roster, Alaska coach Alex Compton vowed the Aces will try to push the favored Beermen to their limit.
“We will still do everything we can to play hard, play the Alaska way, and honor the game,” he said. ‘I feel bad for our injured players and for the fans. We were hoping to have a real tough, exciting game with SMB.”
Tipped to benefit most from the absence of Alaska’s key players is rookie Carl Bryan Cruz, who’s eager to prove that his 20-point, 14-rebound debut performance against NLEX is no fluke.
Expected to play extended minutes are backups Marion Magat, JP Mendoza, and Abel Galliguez, who will join veterans RJ Jazul, Tony dela Cruz, JV Casio, Dondon Hontiveros, Chris Banchero and youngster Kevin Racal. – Jerome Lagunzad
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