Compton on Finals rematch: ‘We need to be aggressive’
MANILA, Philippines – The Alaska Aces may have the slight edge with more rest, they may be the top seed, and they may have been riding a prolonged momentum since the eliminations – but that does not allow them the luxury of relaxing.
Head coach Alex Compton maintained that his team does not at all have significant advantage over San Miguel when the two collide in a best-of-7 Finals of the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup for the second time this season. In fact, he sees a more or less even match-up two conferences since they last met for a title.
“I know that we’re gonna play really hard from jump ball ’til the end. We're gonna come after them, hard,” Compton said after the Beermen wrapped up their semifinals series against Rain or Shine in game 4, 117-110, on Wednesday, July 8.
“We can't be passive. We need to be aggressive,” he insisted. “They are stacked, loaded. [They have] the most dominant local, the two-time Best Import. They got tons of locals who are great players. We can play with them and see who comes out victorious but they're good, we're good. We're coming at them, they're coming at us.”
Alaska and San Miguel will lock horns for a rematch of the Philippine Cup Finals on Friday, July 10.
Both teams have grown tremendously 6 months since their physical, grinding series that saw the Beermen raise their first all-Filipino trophy since 2001.
The two went through similar struggles through the Commissioner’s Cup with little time to recover from the grueling series but came out blazing this Governors’ Cup as they were boosted by fiery imports.
The Aces obtained the perfect puzzle piece to fit them in Romeo Travis, who has been the “do-it-all kind of guy” for Compton with averages of 24 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, two steals and 1.2 blocks just before the Finals.
The Beermen, meanwhile, have a “more prolific scorer” in Arizona Reid, who has barely run out of ammunition throughout the conference with his 28 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He also shot close to 52% from long range in a three-point heavy semifinals against Rain or Shine.
Despite the highly interesting match-up between the two imports, Compton insists full team effort is required to overturn a loaded team like San Miguel – a feat Rain or Shine failed to do despite their deep roster.
“I love Romeo's mindset, his intelligence, and basketball I.Q. But it's going to take everybody from Alaska. All of us need to bring our best if we want to win a championship against a team like San Miguel,” he said.
“It's not about Romeo and AZ, it's not about the individual match-up for us. It will be our team stopping their team, and we'll put the emphasis on the stopping part.”
Fortunately for Alaska, they’ve had taste of what it’s like to grind San Miguel to a halt.
A notoriously defensive team, the Aces shackled the Beermen in their elimination round meeting, 82-77, which was San Miguel’s lowest scoring output all through this conference.
In that same game, Reid had just 17 points – his second lowest scoring output this conference – as he bricked all 8 of his attempts from beyond the arc.
That win also abruptly ended the Beermen’s 8-game winning run. But that’s still not particularly reassuring for Compton in the Finals.
“I feel similarly how I did at the start of the Purefoods series,” Compton said. “It’s gonna be two rams at the very top of the mountain, dalawang matigas ang ulo (two hard-headed teams), going right at it, butting heads and see who headbutts harder, for superiority. They're good and I think we're good too.”
The Aces have a chance to avenge their narrow loss in the Philippine Cup, where Arwind Santos knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer as the Beermen escaped in game 7, 80-78, last January.
Since taking over coaching duties for Alaska last season, Compton preached consistency in identity. And that’s all he’s asking of his squad this time around, even against an old foe they hope to finally vanquish once and for all.
“We're coming at them and we’ll play very hard. It's just Alaska basketball, we can’t change that. That's who we are,” he said of his team’s identity, which he described several times before as playing with honor and never giving up no matter the situation.
“I love Manny Pacquiao and you don't want to see Manny stick and move and run away from guys. We're coming at them. Our head down, we're gonna take some shots, throw some shots, we're coming at ‘em.” – Rappler.com