Compton challenge: Shot at glory in 8 games
MANILA, Philippines — Reciting it in the tone of the kiddie rhymes that became popular during the “Sesame Street” days, rookie Alaska coach Alex Compton knows precisely where he sits.
“Coach Norman (Black), coach Tim (Cone), coach Yeng (Guiao) and me, one thing is not like the other—and that’s me,” Compton said with a smile while holding four fingers up to indicate the great company he got himself into after steering the Aces to the Final Four of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“What do those coaches have, a combined 33 titles, and decades of experience?” Compton said humbly. “I have been here (as coach), how many times, eight games?”
Cone and Black have won Grand Slams each and are ranked 1 and 3 in the all-time list of winningest coaches, while Guiao of Rain or Shine has been in the league since 1990 and has won five championships in a colorful career.
Compton will get a shot at either of those two Grand Slam coaches if he manages to wriggle his way out against Guiao and the Elasto Painters starting at 8 p.m. Friday in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal series.
“Hopefully, they’ll have some mercy on us,” Compton continued in jest as he will be facing the team that dealt his Aces their worst defeat in franchise history, a 123-72 shellacking in their only elimination round clash.
But Compton was also quick to point out that losing that game was the wake-up call that his Aces needed, as they have gone undefeated since then and got a huge favor from the Painters when they beat San Mig in an immaterial game that gave Alaska a twice-to-beat edge.
“I had no idea (that I will be coaching in the semifinals right away),” the American, who was born in the country, added. “Considering how things were rushed, I wasn’t planning too far ahead.”
No matter how Compton tries to downplay his chances, he has a shot at joining another elite roster of coaches that Black, Cone and Guiao are not a part of.
Should things fall in the way of Alaska from here on, Compton can have a Cinderella finish, and maybe then, some other neophyte who comes in the league in the future would be talking highly of him the way he talks of Black and company.