Compton hopes resolute Aces become inspiration to ‘the little guys’
Alaska scrapped and clawed from the opening tip up to the final buzzer the way a desperate team fighting for survival would.
There was nothing more head coach Alex Compton could ask for the Aces, who did everything they could in a 104-99 loss to the San Miguel Beermen, who advanced to the finals yet again.
“I don’t know if there’s much more I could ask from the guys. I thought we played incredibly hard again. We overcame a lot,” Compton said.
“I think a lot of people expected our guys to quit already in Game 3, but we didn’t,” he added. “I’ll go to war with my guys.”
Compton offered no excuses despite the fact that the calls didn’t go their way and that it would’ve helped their case had import Diamon Simpson was healthy.
“All the adversities we’ve went through just one of the craziest, actually the single craziest conference I’ve ever had as a head coach here,” Compton said. “Of all the things that happened they didn’t make excuses, they kept fighting.”
Alaska also lost one of its stars in Calvin Abueva in the middle of the conference. Abueva was suspended indefinitely by the Aces after he failed to report to the team for more than a week.
Then, Jeron Teng, Alaska’s promising rookie, got involved in a stabbing incident along with his former college teammates and was out for a month.
Still, the Aces managed to finish in the top two at the end of the elimination round.
Alaska dealt with more woes in the playoffs after its import Diamon Simpson hurt his ankle in Game 2 of the semifinals against San Miguel.
Simpson played through an ankle injury and got a busted lip in the fourth quarter of Game 4, but that didn’t stop him from putting up 24 points, 21 rebounds and three blocks to lead Alaska.
“I wanna commend Diamon Simpson he was playing on a leg and a half for a few games. I challenged my guys after, after our terrible year last year, we came back and we did a good job.
Apart from Simpson, the locals also came up big for the Aces.
Big man Vic Manuel set the tone for Alaska in the first half with 13 points while guard Simon Enciso kept the Aces in thick of things in the fourth quarter where the Beermen threatened to pull away.
Enciso had 19 points and seven assists while Manuel scored 20 points but was practically shut down in the second half.
“I’m extremely disappointed for my guys with the incredible effort that they showed.”
Compton hopes the Aces will serve as inspiration to the “little guy” with the way they stood tall and still had a good amount of success despite the circumstances.
“The little guy has to fight hard to stand up. The guy who gets beat up but still gets back on his feet and keeps fighting. I wanna see those people be inspired by the little guy having a fair chance,” he said.
“I think our greatest responsibility as Alaska, as an independent, is to play as hard as we can and try to inspire the little guy. Those people who feel like all hope is lost, we’re still going to stand up and fight,” Compton said. “That’s the greatest responsibility and challenge that we have.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.