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Exciminiano, Jazul showcase Alaska’s continuity in dominant series win

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After a strong third quarter that pushed the Alaska Aces’ lead to 87-73 entering the final period of Game 5, the Aces fans already begun their celebration by raising cardboard print-outs of the Alaska members’ faces.

After all, it only took a few signs to know the series would eventually be over. Alaska blasted Globalport by 24, 13, and again by 24 in the last three games, adjusting very well and taking control of the series. It was only a matter of time before they would do the same in Game 5.

The Aces though did not stop playing efficient basketball even with a comfortable lead, as they kept on pressuring Globalport up until the final buzzer.

Later, the Aces pulled out their starters one by one and went to their bench, but the team still wanted it more. The result was a 31-16 fourth quarter which turned the game to a 118-89 blowout in the end.

Ping Exciminiano was one of the Aces who found joy in the fourth quarter juggernaut, pouring nine of his career-high 19 points in the period.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Exciminiano, Jazul showcase Alaska's continuity in dominant series win    Picked 18th overall during the 2013 PBA draft by the Aces, Exciminiano had a hedge the team would be using him for a longer time on the floor, and he delivered well on both ends, shooting 8-for-11 and having a plus/minus of +16.

“Nung nag-practice kami, nagkaroon kami ng mga plays na para sa akin so doon pa lang nakuha ko na yung confidence ko. Kailangan ko siyang (Terrence Romeo) pagurin, and nag-sstart na akong mag-offense,” Exciminiano said.

Three years ago, the former FEU Tamaraw knew he would be playing only sparse minutes for the squad, but it did not matter as he knew just being there was the very essence of the Aces adding tools to the roster one by one.

Eventually, the Alaska Aces will need its other players to be productive, and the series against Globalport was a perfect example. Alex Compton definitely needed fresh legs on the floor at all times, especially on the defensive end as Globalport’s production stems from impressive guard play.

Exciminiano’s minutes increased from 8.4 in the eliminations to 15.3 in the first four games. In Game 5, he logged over 23 minutes to help the Aces.

“Nung Game 2, nagstart na akong mag-isip na hahaba ang playing time ko dahil kailangan naming ma-stop si Terrence at Stanley (Pringle). So naghanda ako sa practice pa lang. Naglalagay ako ng hangin sa katawan ko, hindi naman madali gagawin ko eh. Yung mga coaching staff namin, tinulungan ako magpa-kundisyon,” Exciminiano added.

RJ Jazul was another guard who saw a jump from his production in the elimination to the semi-finals. Averaging only 18 minutes a game, Jazul increased his minutes to 25.6 in the semi-finals, and from scoring only 7.3 points a game in the elimination round, Jazul dropped 14, 17, 12, 14, and nine in the series.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Exciminiano, Jazul showcase Alaska's continuity in dominant series win    “Siyempre always ready lang kami. Heavy guards sila eh so yung guard rotation namin mabilis. Kailangan nagtutulungan kaming mga guards. Eventually, nagbunga yung pagpapahirap namin sa kanila,” Jazul shared.

Jazul joined the Aces in 2012 after brief stints with Rain or Shine and Shopinas. He was quickly oriented about his role to play behind the likes of JVee Casio, Dondon Hontiveros, and Cyrus Baguio, and he did not mind even if he was not one of the main guys of the Aces.

It was about being able to contribute whether it is a short stretch or heavy minutes, and the semi-finals series also gave him a break.

“Nakita ko na yung role ko since kay Coach Luigi (Trillo) pa lang. Basta ready lang lagi. Defensively kami nags-start lagi. Offensively naman, loaded kami,” Jazul added.

“Nakita namin yung style nila eh, may (Joseph) Yeo, (Keith) Jensen, and (Anthony) Semerad pa sila. So kami, andyan lang kami. Since (off-season) pa, nagpapakundisyon na kami at pinaghahandaan na namin yung mga playoffs,” he said.

The rise of Exciminiano and Jazul as the heroes of the 4-1 series win only showed the importance of Alaska’s continuous drive to build chemistry and develop a deeply-talented roster.

The Aces continue to keep young guns, like Chris Banchero, Nonoy Baclao, and recently Kevin Racal. Though these names will not be playing big minutes right off the bat, they will eventually be the ones to share the spotlight in the future.

It showed with Exciminiano and Jazul, and such continuity has been one of the key factors to Alaska’s success in the past half decade. Banchero has already cracked the regular rotation, and it shall only be a matter of time for the others to be given breaks in the Aces’ “We-Not-Me” system.

“Yung guards, it gave us depth and threat sa offense. More than that, yung defense din nila. Talagang grabe, ang ganda ng pinakita nila sa series na ito,” JVee Casio said.

“Again, hopefully ganoon ang performance although you cannot assure that. We have to work as a team. Continuity-wise, maganda meron from the starters, meron sa bench, and as long as the team is playing well, maganda yun para sa amin.”

Some photos from PBA Images

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