MANILA, Philippines – Alex Compton tread carefully as he entered the press room to face the media. The coach had just finished an important conversation with the Alaska Aces – one where he made known his frustration and disappointment over the way they played Wednesday, May 11.
It was a crucial game in the best-of-7 finals series, as it pushed the Aces down 0-3 and on the brink of yet another heartbreaking failure.
(READ: Rain or Shine shoots to 3-0 PBA Finals lead over Alaska)
“I think disappointing would be an understatement for our effort in the first half. Zero excuses for that kind of energy and effort and Rain or Shine really dominated us,” Compton rued.
“I’m not sure how you don’t show up in a Game 3.”
The Aces, bridesmaid finishers of 3 of the last 5 conferences, looked far from their usual selves as they lacked fluidity and rhythm on offense, taking tentative or rushed shots. There were also a lot of breakdowns defensively.
They allowed Rain or Shine to shoot 15 triples on them, and 13 of those torched them in the first 3 quarters as the lead swelled to as much as 27 points. (HIGHLIGHTS: PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Game 3 – Alaska vs Rain or Shine)
“You guys know me I think you can probably tell how frustrated and some other emotions that are in there right now. If you’re thinking we have some sort of switch that we can turn on after being dominated, it’s a clear recipe for failure, nothing we’ve ever talked about and I believe dishonors the game,” Compton said.
“We dishonored it for a long stretch today by not playing with the energy that is required.”
It was not as if Alaska was fatigued, as Compton pointed out. He said they only watched film and did a 30-minute walkthrough during Monday’s practice right after Sunday’s Game 2. Though they have been playing sans injured key men JVee Casio and Vic Manuel.
“I felt there was a stretch there that was the most disappointing stretch of basketball that I recall seeing Alaska play,” he added. “That really felt like an aberration to me. I didn’t feel like that was our team.”
“Nakaka-frustrate talaga, sa totoo lang (It’s very frustrating, to be honest),” was Cyrus Baguio’s reaction. (IN VINES: Rain or Shine sizzles from 3-point land in PBA Finals)
Alaska attempted a last-ditch comeback in the fourth, just as Rain or Shine turned sloppy and complacent. But it was too late and the damage had already been done. Now, they’re back to where their old nemesis San Miguel was just a few months ago – backs against the wall, scratching for a way to live another game.
The series isn’t over just yet, as Compton would know from that nightmare experience last conference, where they became the antagonist to San Miguel’s historic comeback from a 0-3 deficit.
“We better have some San Miguel, I guess, so we can make a ‘beeracle’ happen,” he said with a weary smile that quickly faded. “Honestly at this point, for me, it is absolutely about pride.”
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m wrong, but I am all about every possession and not just about every possession – about every aspect of every possession,” Compton explained. “Of course you’re not gonna, but unless we are competing, trying to win every aspect of every possession, we’re not really gonna have a chance.”
Alaska is not getting too far ahead of itself, assuming that the fate of another team would be the same for them. But if, according to Compton, the Aces can stay focused and survive the test of mental toughness with every possession on Friday for Game 4, then they can at least salvage some pride. At most they, too, can make history.
“I still love those guys in that room with that uniform but you can love your kids and be disappointed,” Compton said. “That’s the truth.” – Rappler.com
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