BARANGAY Ginebra's Chris Alexander and Alaska counterpart Adam Parada, admittedly, have yet to reach full game-shape.
Just how far the reinforcements' progress have gone should be known when the Gin Kings and Aces
collide in the first PBA Commissioner's Cup road game Saturday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
A win by Ginebra in the Phoenix Fuel-sponsored setto puts it alongside idle leader B-MEG while
Alaska is bidding to grab solo second place with a second straight victory.
"A very crucial game against a very dangerous team," said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen.
As in their past outings the teams' locals should play major roles, but their imports remain the
key. Especially for Ginebra, which is set to play minus Rudy Hatfield. The hard-working forward had to go back to the US to attend the funeral of his grandparent.
Hatfield had seven points and nine rebounds before being ejected for an early technical and a third quarter flagrant foul-penalty 1 in the Kings' game against Petron Blaze but the perennial crowd favorite still won, 84-82, thanks to a last-second shot by Jayjay Helterbrand.
Alexander did not do so bad in his own return stint with 21 points and 24 rebounds despite being
forcefully laid off for close to nine months. He needed the time to recuperate after his eye was
injured in an accident back home.
"Admittedly, he came in not in the best of shape, but he is working himself back somehow," said
One thing is sure about the man who led the Kings to the 2008 Fiesta Conference title and copped the Best Import award to boot.
"Basta ang attitude niya parang Ginebra," said Tanquingcen. "Lalaban at lalaban siya."
It would take some doing.
Alaska is coming off a cruising 109-102 win over Rain or Shine after Cyrus Baguio scored 25 points and Parada added 24 points to go with 20 rebounds.
Those numbers, along with the ones he put up in a 78-98 loss to Barako Bull on opening day, jacked the seven-foot Mexican's averages to 20.0 points and 17.5 rebounds.
Not bad for someone who got sidelined by a calf muscle injury for two months and came into the
tourney just a week before it started.
"I hope he continues to get in shape," said Alaska coach Joel Banal, who originally chose bland
American-Hungarian Matt Hayasz before opting to replace him with Red Bull's 2008 Fiesta
"We were looking for a versatile import, one who can play inside and outside and I feel we found it in Adam," added Banal.
It is not only Parada and Baguio who nag at Tanquingcen. The Aces also boast of other towering
frontliners in Sonny Thoss, Sam Eman, Jayr Reyes and Paolo Bugia, not to mention guards LA enorio and Bonbon Custodio.
"It's a big challenge," noted Tanquingcen. "Their front line is so huge so we will see how we match up against a huge front court, how we would compete." (NC)