Do or Die Game: SLR vs Alaska

On: 09 July 2008

SLR vs Alaska

By Zean Macamay
Journal Online, 09 July 2008

CHAMPIONS the past two conferences, Alaska and Sta. Lucia Realty are now surprisingly fighting for survival.

And so are Talk ‘N Text and Purefoods, the runners-up the past two tournaments.

In a tournament that has gone bizarre and produced shocking results, the defending champion Aces square off with the Realtors and the Phone Pals battle the Giants in a pair of odd knockout matches in the wild card stage of the Smart PBA Fiesta Conference at the Ynares Center.

Winners of today’s games figure in another do-or-die match on Friday for the right to advance to the best-of-three quarterfinals opposite Ginebra.

“Obviously, Sta. Lucia is a team we didn’t want to face,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone. We were hoping to be in the quarterfinals at least. But we’ll make some adjustments. We’re very confident.”

Alaska hasn’t yet defeated Sta. Lucia this conference, and the last time these two teams met, the Realtors had an already in-form Lee Benson who exploded for 22 points and 28 rebounds in a shockingly easy 95-75 victory.

The Aces also were the ones the Realtors defeated in seven games in the Philippine Cup semifinals.

But while the Realtors may have the Aces’ number this season, coach Boyet Fernandez believes today’s game is an entirely different contest with a different level.

“Di ko na iniisip na di pa nanalo ang Alaska sa amin this conference. This is different, it’s a knockout game and the team that will come out strong and be steady in the stretch will win the game.”

Alaska wasn’t expected to be in this stage. It won a tournament-best six straight wins, was one victory away from a quarterfinals berth but blew it away after losing to the Gin Kings last Sunday, 97-90.

After the 18-game eliminations, the Aces finished with a 9-9 (win-loss) record, with the Realtors even faring worse with a 7-11 slate.

After that one-sided win over Alaska , Sta. Lucia has been on a four-game losing slide, with its mission of completing a season sweep of the two titles now very much in danger.

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