Compton on Gilas stint: ‘Greatest honor of my basketball career’
MANILA, Philippines – Alex Compton certainly looks nothing like a Filipino, and his appearance is undoubtedly deceiving.
Fair-skinned and blue-eyed though he is, few people are prouder to have “Pilipinas” splashed across the chest than the 41-year old Filipino-born American.
“Honest to goodness, I keep saying it, this is the greatest honor of my coaching career, of my whole basketball career,” the Alaska head coach, who was born in Makati, said about his inclusion in the national men’s basketball team as assistant coach.
“It’s different,” added Compton, who represented the country in 2002 as part of the team that competed in the William Jones Cup.
“Even though I’m not Filipino, just being born here and loving the country, when I put Philippines on my chest as a player I never felt anything like that – my college, my high school – nothing like it, nothing close.”
Just a year into his first head coaching gig in the PBA where he led the Aces to two Finals appearances, the Tagalog-fluent former player received the call to join head coach Tab Baldwin’s coaching staff for Gilas Pilipinas.
“‘Me? You want me in your coaching staff? Coach you realize I have zero international coaching experience, right?’ I did not foresee it,” the cheerful and humble mentor said. “I’m stumbling my way through Alaska, I didn’t see it coming."
Alongside Compton are several of Philippine basketball’s great coaching minds such as Norman Black, Jong Uichico, Nash Racela and Josh Reyes.
With such coaching greats within arm’s reach, Compton can’t help but yearn to learn as much as he can. (READ: Marcus Douthit thankful for time with national team)
“I don’t want to be selfish about that. I do think of this as my master’s program because I don’t have one that I can enroll in. At the same time, it’s not about my learning, this is about serving the national team,” explained Compton, who first dipped his toes into coaching as an assistant at Welcoat (now Rain or Shine) in 2006.
“I’m going to learn. I’m going to learn a lot of new things every day. And my job is not to get so caught up with the learning and forget the serving. It’s the serve first and learn as much as I can in the process.” (READ: JC Intal sees Gilas stint as 'dream come true')
There is also a semblance of home for Compton with Gilas as several faces from Alaska are also on the team including energy guy Calvin Abueva and veterans Sonny Thoss and Dondon Hontiveros.
Similar to himself, Compton knows Gilas will only be the best learning experience for his wards, especially for 27-year old Calvin Abueva who still has an entire career ahead of him. The same is still true for the veterans who’ve had past national team experience as well.
“It’s the national team, so it’s like the greatest all-star team, and you’re battling with guys every day that can play and give you different looks than you get in Alaska practice,” he said. “It’s a non-stop growth for them. More than that it’s the pride that those guys have to be a part of the national team.”
Meanwhile, Baldwin expressed pride over having a solid staff he can lean on as Gilas vies for the gold at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, Hunan, China this September.
“I really believe in the coaching expertise and that’s something a little bit new for me too,” the New Zealander said. “A lot of the countries I’ve coached in, I won’t say devoid of coaching knowledge, but lacking high-level coaching experience whereas here we have a lot.”
“I want their knowldege. I want us to broaden what we do and what we expose our players to. I don’t want them to just hear from me,” Baldwin added. – Rappler.com