Meralco's Newsome wary of Alaska's surge ahead of crucial match

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--If there is one team that could steal the show at the homestretch of the PBA Governors' Cup elimination round, that would be Alaska.

After starting the conference with six straight losses--and 14 consecutive dating back to the Commissioner's Cup--the Aces are suddenly in the race for a quarterfinal spot.

"Alaska got three wins in a row. That's really big for them, and I know they wanna keep playing well and keep winning games so they can at least make a run for the playoffs," said Meralco winger Chris Newsome to Dugout Philippines ahead of his team's showdown with Alaska on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

While the Aces are in 10th place, they are just a game behind the Blackwater Elite (4-5) for eighth place, and a win in their 4:15 p.m. battle with the Bolts could complicate matters in the race for number eight, the last seat for the playoffs.

GlobalPort (3-5) can even make it a wild race for number seven if it beats slumping Star (4-3) in the nightcap at 7 p.m. as a win plus an Alaska win earlier Friday will mean the four teams chasing for the remaining two spots in the quarterfinals will have four wins each.

Meanwhile, Meralco has some matters of its own to tackle as the club looks to inch closer to a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round.

Virtually speaking, the Bolts need to win at least two of their remaining three games to assure themselves of a Top 4 finish in the preliminaries without any need of the quotient system for ties.

However, they have to get past the streaking Aces, the Batang Pier, and the San Miguel Beermen, another team chasing a twice-to-beat edge, in order.

For both Newsome and import Allen Durham, they have a common approach.

"We just have to take it one game at a time," echoed both wingmen, whose team will get a huge boost in Ranidel De Ocampo.

Meralco acquired the veteran forward from TNT in a trade with Phoenix on Monday.

Also looking for a Top 4 spot are the Hotshots, but they lost their last three games already including one against the Bolts on Saturday night in Sta. Rosa City.

They need to beat the Batang Pier to stay alive in the twice-to-beat race.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno