Alaska's David vs San Miguel's Goliath: Compton remains a believer
MANILA, Philippines – For Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton, their semifinals duel against the San Miguel Beermen in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup is considered a battle between David and Goliath.
And just like the Biblical hero, the Aces just need to hit the right spot in order to slay the giant in the Beermen.
Even after their 79-92 Game 1 loss to San Miguel, Compton remains a firm believer of his Aces – not just because he coaches the squad – but because he knows there are ways to win the best-of-5 duel.
"You got to kill me to stop me from being a believer. So I see ways that we could win and you know, if there’s that .0001 percent chance left? I’m gung-ho for that .0001 chance," he told reporters after the game.
If Game 1 is any indication, the Aces are in for a rough ride.
After a close first quarter, San Miguel pulled away as early as the second period and never looked back. Anything the Aces threw, the Beermen barely even budged.
In the end, 6 players finished in double figures for the Beermen while the Aces just had two.
It was a testament of San Miguel’s firepower – that it is in its deadliest when everyone contributes.
The Beermen would not have won 6 of the last 10 PBA titles if they solely relied on reigning 4-time league Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo or Alex Cabagnot or Marcio Lassiter or Chris Ross or Arwind Santos.
And now with top pick Christian Standhardinger, new acquisition Kelly Nabong and returning import Renaldo Balkman in the fold, San Miguel's offensive options have vastly expanded.
"Sabi ko sa mga kasama ko, kaibigan ko (I told my friends and colleagues), 'The strongest team in the league is now stronger than they’ve ever been 'cause they have a legitimate NBA import and the No. 1 draft pick. And Nabong’s playing great. So, rich get richer," Compton said.
"They’re already a headache for the league. So it’s going to be the strongest team we’ve ever faced."
Following Alaska's 105-103 win over San Miguel in the elimination round, the Aces have proven the Beermen are still beatable.
But it is already playoff basketball, and the last time the two teams faced in a playoff series, San Miguel made history by overcoming a 0-3 deficit to edge Alaska for the 2016 Philippine Cup championship.
The Beermen have a 5-game playoff winning streak and it is something Compton hopes to snap.
"This is the type of series where we have to play so well to win. And a mediocre game is not getting us the win," he said.
"With San Miguel, they’ll have a mediocre night and you could play well and they’d still win. So we got to play really well every game. Every game we want to win, we just have to be at such a high level."
The Aces are still touted as the underdog heading into Game 2 on Monday, July 16, at the Araneta Coliseum but Compton will hold on to any type of hope, no matter how slim it is.
"They're obviously good, guys, we can all agree on that. But like I said, I am a believer. So, I always think that the Davids of the world have a chance."
"But man, David had to be real accurate with that sling. If he was off with his aim, Goliath would have eaten him for lunch, right? So we gotta be pretty spot on with all the stuff we're doing," he added. – Rappler.com