The Star Hotshots and the Alaska Aces are set to play their first game of the year today after a two-week hiatus to get back on track and redeem the share of third place when they collide in the 7:00 p.m. set to at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Both coming off a loss to end their 2016, Star and Alaska are raring to turn the tables this year in order to prevent slipping in the team rankings or worse, get early exit in the PBA Philippine Cup. Alaska was enjoying its three-game win run when TNT cut it short, 109-100, last December 23. With the loss, Alaska fell to 3-3 slate. But the Aces are expected to get a boost from Sonny Thoss as the 35 year-old center is bound to make his debut after missing their first sixth game.
Thoss can be of great help especially in rebounding department, where Alaska placed eleventh in the standing after raking up only 43.5 boards per game. In their last outing, Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel teamed up to gather 34 points and 15 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Star Hotshots’ fate is not different from the Aces’s as their three-game winning streak also went to an end last Chrismas day when they bowed to long-time rivals Ginebra, 76-89. Playing his first Manila Classico, Paul Lee immediately made damage after producing 20 points.
But it was put to a waste when Japeth Aguilar spoiled his debut with his career-high 32 points to help Ginebra escape past the Hotshots. Marc Pingris had an excellent performance too with his double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds.
The Hotshots are also carrying an identical 3-3 record.