Alaska’s Compton: ‘KIA is for real’
MANILA, Philippines – Getting wins over 4 of the most storied and established franchises in the PBA is hard to call a fluke.
While basketball purists would prefer to criticize a KIA Carnival team with Manny Pacquiao for a playing coach, Alaska head coach Alex Compton himself admitted that KIA is no joke.
“KIA is for real,” he said after his team fell victim to the “giant slayers,” 103-89, on Tuesday, March 3.
“We’ll see how far they can or can’t go. I don’t think it’s fair to put championship expectations on them.”
KIA surpassed all expectations when they pulled off upset after upset, including back-to-back victories over Purefoods and Talk ’N Text, in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup after winning just one game in the previous Philippine Cup.
At 4-5, the Carnival are clinging to the 8th spot in the standings and are on pace for a playoffs appearance in just the franchise’s second PBA conference.
But Pacquiao, who won’t be with the team until the Governors’ Cup due to his upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., previously declared he wants his team to go for all the marbles and not settle for just a short playoffs stint.
“I know Manny said that’s their goal, which, hey, go for it. Why else would you compete except to win a championship? But we’ll see,” Compton said.
“I think for the fans and for the PBA public, they should be impressed because an expansion team has come in and is doing really well.”
“I started out with Welcoat (now Rain or Shine), I know how hard it is,” Compton empathized with KIA. “I know how hard it is to come into the PBA and win and beat 4 of the best franchises in the league in this conference alone. So great job by them.”
Compton, whose Aces are at 2-5 and still have not found its rhythm following last conference’s Finals, admitted there was less pressure on Alaska against KIA considering how the young team has been on a rampage so far.
“I think the pressure would be more if they hadn’t (beaten other champion teams) and then we lost. They’re showing that they’re a good team. They really look like they’re well-coached.”
But that does not mean he will take this loss lying down.
The young coach who took over the team midway in last year’s Commissioner’s Cup admitted Tuesday’s setback, as well as their 2-5 win-loss record, is his responsibility.
“The bottomline is they were a little more organized. They executed really well,” he said. “And we just gotta be better. I gotta help our guys be better. This one’s really my fault.”
The Aces will return from the PBA All-Star break on March 11 to take on Blackwater, another expansion team looking to slay a team like Alaska.
Until then, Compton is eyeing to make some improvements to the team overall.
“The guys don’t worry about fixing me, I have to fix me,” he said.
“It’s possible that I worked the guys so hard in the first conference. One of my many coaching faults. So we’ll have to revisit that and see how we handle it. But I’ve always appreciated the guys’ effort. They’ve worked really hard, they tried their best. They’ve been easy to coach, I just gotta be a better coach.” – Rappler.com