The PBA Commissioner’s Cup 2013 Finals will pit the conference’s top team Alaska Aces against crowd-favorite 7th seed team Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in a best-of-five series which will start on Wednesday, May 15.
Alaska got into the Finals by drubbing defending champs San Mig Coffee Mixers in 3-1 fashion, sweeping the last 3 games after dropping the first against former coach Time Cone’s club. Aces’ defense and resiliency stood out in that series, coming back from double-digit deficits to win the last two games.
Ginebra, meanwhile, survived Talk N’ Text in a 5-game stand, winning the last two games after being down 2-1 in the series. The Gin Kings capitalized on size advantage of Vernon Macklin and stellar play of LA Tenorio to drop the decimated Texters’ roster.
PBA Finals will be telecast live on TV5. My preview of the matchups:
Alaska vs Ginebra gamest his conference
Alaska Aces won both matches against Ginebra this conference. The first one happened on February 23 in Lanao del Norte when the Aces were on a 3-game winning streak and the Gin Kings were 0-3 and debuted their import Macklin.
Mark Caguioa scored 20, Macklin had 16 and Tenorio struggled with 8 points as the Aces won in a rout, 84-69.
In the second game on April 10, Ginebra was riding a 5-win game streak and Alaska was looking for their 10th win and the top seed. Both imports had monster games, but Rob Dozier scored 11 points in the 4th to fuel Aces’ 10-0 run late in the game that sealed the win, 102-93. Dozier had 28 points, 20 boards while Macklin scored 28 with 18 rebounds.
Ginebra starters: Baracael, Raymundo, Macklin, Ellis, Tenorio
Alaska starters: Dela Cruz, Thoss, Dozier, Baguio, Casio
Point Guards: LA Tenorio vs Jayvee Casio
Tenorio stepped up his game when Caguioa was downed with injury and now leads all locals for Best Player of the Conference award. He is a scorer, and Ginebra needs him to score more with Caguioa still injured. Casio was great in his playmaking skills for Alaska, who suffered few losses when Casio was injured. He is also prolific in off-the-pick three-point shots and dribble drive layups. EDGE: Ginebra
Shooting guards: Chris Ellis vs Cyrus Baguio
Ellis and Baguio are both great open court players, with the former winning his first Slam Dunk crown this year. But Baguio has an array of moves even in half-court and a veteran in the PBA. EDGE: Alaska
Small forwards: Mark Baracael vs Tony de la Cruz
Baracael was instrumental in Ginebra’s semifinals run as he teamed up with Tenorio to carry offensive load for the Gin Kings. He scored 21 in Game 5 against TNT. Dela Cruz was more of a defender and facilitator for Alaska, but can also shoot threes when open. EDGE: Ginebra
Frontline: Kerby Raymundo vs Sonny Thoss
Kerby is more of a face-up big man who can shoot and drive to the basket. He has rejuvenated his play under Alfrancis Chua’s watch. Sonny Thoss is one of the best post up threats in the PBA and can also shoot at range. Thoss most of the time defends import, so these two might not be guarding each other. EDGE: Alaska
Imports: Vernon Macklin vs Robert Dozier
Macklin is an explosive scorer with his monter dunks and power plays. But his moves are limited and outside shooting non-existent. Dozier is more of a complete offensive package with his drive to the basket, perimeter shots and rare treys. Both imports are great at boards and putbacks. EDGE: Alaska
Will Caguioa play? If yes, then the battle of the benches starts with him and Calvin Abueva. But of course, Caguioa is not 100 percent. Jayjay Helterbrand, Josh Urbiztondo and Rudy Hatfield will be there to provide some spark. Aside from Abueva who always play great at both ends, Gabby Espinas, RJ Jazul and veteran Dondon Hontiveros are great offensive subs. EDGE: Alaska
Coach: Alfrancis Chua vs Luigi Trillo
This is Chua’s second finals appearance as head coach and Trillo’s first. Chua’s great at motivating his guys to play with passion and maximize their potentials. Trillo, on the other hand, was impressive in instituting great defensive schemes and offensive strategies. EDGE: Alaska
The main factor in this series is how Ginebra will be able to break Alaska’s vaunted defense. Surely they will trap Tenorio at pick and rolls, double Macklin down low and close out on shooters. That was what the Aces have been doing all conference long, and up to this point no team was able to solve that.
Defense wins championships. ALASKA IN 4.
Do you agree with my take on PBA Finals between Alaska and Ginebra? Comment below!