PBA: Backs against the wall, Alex Compton and the Alaska Aces promise to bring the fight in Game 3
Santino Honasan on Jul 17, 2018 11:55 AM
“We’re gonna play as hard as we can to honor this game, honor the Alaska uniform and leave it all out there. There’s no other way to do it.”
Monday night in Game 2 of their 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series against San Miguel, the Alaska Aces came out swinging and built a lead as big as 16 points.
Early on, it looked like they were on their way to evening the series up at a game apiece.
But as we’ve seen time and time again, the defending champion Beermen kept their composure and battled back, eventually winning by eleven, 105-94.
The Beermen are again a win away from another trip to the Finals, while the Aces are staring at elimination.
“I thought we really battled. I don’t bring my phone in the game, I don’t look, but comments I got from shaking hands in the line was man, you guys play so hard.” Alaska head coach Alex Compton said following the loss. “We're going up against a great team. I cannot fault our effort. We had one day to make some adjustments. We made some. It's hard to overwhelm and adjust everything all at once. We saw in Game 1 that San Miguel had six guys in double figures and we want to take some things away.”
The Aces headed into the second half with an eleven-point advantage, but that’s when it began to collapse, as the Beermen started the third quarter on a 13-2 run to erase the deficit. They ended the game on a 17-7 run for the eleven-point win.
“They played really well in the second half. I thought I was so proud of our effort in the first half. I felt the guys executed the game plan pretty well. In the second half, they really asserted themselves, particularly June Mar [Fajardo].” Compton added. “I felt like it was June Mar and Balkman in the second half that really took it to us. And we didn’t lack effort, but they took it at us.”
Fajardo definitely impacted the game, as he scored 11 of his 21 points in the final two quarters, but it was San Miguel guard Chris Ross and import Renaldo Balkman that sparked the Beermen’s third quarter run.
Balkman, who finished with a game-high 31 points, scored 14 of them in the third period, while Ross added eleven of his own.
“Chris Ross decided to hit four threes again. I’ve known him since he was a rookie, and I’m telling him how much I don’t appreciate that,” Compton said jokingly.
At the end of the day, Compton and the Aces face the reality of going up against a stacked team like San Miguel.
The Beermen have stars in every position. Couple that with championship experience and composure and it makes for a very dangerous team.
“When you play a team like San Miguel, you can't take everything away. I wish we could, but you can't play single coverage on June Mar, you can’t, and you can't double everybody. So you end up leaving some shots out there, and they made them and they asserted themselves inside.”
“Their 1-2-3 combination of Marcio [Lassiter], Arwind [Santos], Chris Ross, who hit four threes today, and then [Christian] Standhardinger, [Kelly] Nabong off the bench, and they haven’t used Matt Rosser yet, who is a number four pick. I mean, they are so deep and so big and you just kinda.. you try to take away certain plays, you try to key on certain things but you can’t take a hundred percent away.” Compton added.
Making things even more challenging for Alaska is the fact that they’re going up against arguably the most stacked team in the PBA while missing some key cogs of their own.
For the second straight game, playmaker Chris Banchero was unavailable for the Aces after tending to personal matters, while hard-nosed forward Calvin Abueva is still suspended indefinitely.
Still, Compton promises that the Aces will be bringing the fight. With their backs against the wall, the have no other choice after all.
“We're gonna fight again. Yun yung sinabi ko nung natalo kami sa kanila sa All-Filipino. Sabi ko, sa mga dinadaanan ng mga tao sa Pilipinas, sa hirap ng buhay ng mga iba na lumalaban pa, pano ba tayo? Dapat sila nainspire sa effort namin. So we’re fighting a great team, a championship team. We’re missing some pieces. If we’re complete, we’re not the favorites. We’re missing some pieces, but we’re gonna fight.
“We’re gonna play as hard as we can to honor this game, honor the Alaska uniform and leave it all out there. There’s no other way to do it.” Compton added.
Compton and the Aces meet San Miguel for Game 3 on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum