It has been a while since the last time Kevin Racal had a game to remember for the Alaska Aces.
In the Milkmen’s first two games in the 2018 Philippine Cup — which both ended up as losses — the three-year pro was a non-factor, scoring a grand total of just two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 26 minutes of playing time.
Since last season, where Alaska racked up more losses than wins, Racal has misfired for most of their games, having bad shooting outings almost on a nightly basis — so much that some of the Aces’ fans put him under scrutiny on social media.
But on Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, with Alaska looking to end their two-game skid in the all-Filipino tilt, the 26-year-old from Mandaluyong finally made some shots. And they proved pivotal.
Racal hit back-to-back triples in the fourth quarter to power a 9-5 spurt by the Aces — the run that changed the game’s complexity and eventually led to Alaska’s 103-98 victory over Chris Newsome and the Meralco Bolts.
“K-Racs knocks down two huge threes, that’s the game,” lauded Aces head coach Alex Compton.
“We’ve been talking to K-Racs a lot. He’s such a smart basketball player and a great defender… [It’s that] he’s just missing his shots,” added the strategist about Racal, who finished with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting along with four rebounds.
“For him to have that breakthrough, that’s massive.”
For Racal, Wednesday night may have been the perfect way of redeeming himself following his poor games in the past. But he gave full credit to his teammates, as they all served a huge part in his showing and in the triumph.
“Sabi nga nila tagal ko na rin walang magandang laro.
“Siguro naswertehan lang din, and dahil din sa mga teammates ko kasi nalolocate nila ako para malibre,” he said. “And siyempre pinagpa-praktisan ko rin.”
It was definitely a perfect time for Racal to heat up, as it led to Alaska’s breakthrough victory. But for the six-foot-three forward, he is simply thankful that he and his team were able to avoid being down in a deep 0-3 hole.
“Malaking win ‘to para samin kasi siyempre kailangan namin manalo eh. Ayaw namin masyadong bumaba sa standings, so yun binigay naman,” said the NCAA champion. “Nagtulong-tulong talaga kami para manalo.
“Sabi nga ni Coach Alex, new year, new life para sa’min.”
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