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Unbeaten Aces face winless Painters

San Miguel Beer’s Mike Cortez defies the defense of Purefoods’ Don Allado, left, and Peter June Simon during their PBA RP Cup showdown Wednesday. The Beermen won, 92-76. Jun Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines - Alaska Milk and Rain or Shine clash today in a battle between league leader and cellar-dweller with the former looking to stretch its unbeaten run and the latter hoping to end its winless spell in a game headlining a KFC PBA Philippine Cup triple-bill at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.

Smart Gilas plays its fifth game as guest team in the tourney, taking on Sta. Lucia Realty at 2:30 p.m. then reigning champion Talk n Text tackles Barako Bull at 5 p.m., shooting for a second win in three days.

The Aces are gunning for a seventh straight victory as they tangle with the slumping Elasto Painters in the 7:30 p.m. mainer.

Coach Tim Cone insists he hates playing this kind of game, saying there’s the tendency for the winning team to take the other team for granted.

Alaska has tied its 6-0 start in the 1996 Commissioner’s Cup, and this evokes memories of the Aces’ grand slam feat that year.

At 0-6, Rain or Shine, meanwhile, is starting to make another record in futility.

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“Right now things haven’t gone the way we anticipated. No team wants to lose six straight, but we also understand that the season isn’t over. We have to continue to work hard and find a way to come together and get a win,” said Rain or Shine ace player Gabe Norwood.

“We know we can compete in this league. We just have to get a victory together. Faith and spirits are not crushed on this team. We will bounce back,” Norwood added.

The Elasto Painters, however, have a tough task at hand as they try to end their losing skein versus the Aces.

Alaska veteran mainstay Jeffrey Cariaso said their team is looking to improve in each game, prompting him to liken the current bunch to the Alaska team that had a great run in the league in the 90s.

“What’s pretty amazing on our team is the guys know how to stay grounded. When you’re grounded you don’t look at what happened yesterday, you just look forward,” said Cariaso.

“One comparison (between the two Alaska teams) I’d like to make is we genuinely like each other. When you talk about a family, we really are. We have a family atmosphere where everyone does their job,” Cariaso added.

Cariaso was part of the old Alaska team bannered by Johnny Abarrientos, Bong Hawkins and Jojo Lastimosa.

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