Slide caused by veteran Aces committing rookie mistakes
For a PBA franchise as proud as Alaska, absorbing successive beatdowns is uncharacteristic. And so is playing like a young team.
That was basically what Jeff Cariaso was pointing to Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum where his veteran Aces fell for the fifth straight time in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup.
“We’re a veteran team making a lot of rookie mistakes,” Cariaso said following a 95-90 loss to defending champion Magnolia.
“And we have to clean that up,” said the former Rookie of the Year and member of Alaska’s Grand Slam team of 1996. He was thrust into the coaching job shortly before the conference began after Alex Compton resigned.
Cariaso, more than the defeat, was deflated over his charges’ inability to get basic things going in the endgame—something they had no trouble doing in the past.
The owner of 14 PBA crowns—the second-most by active teams in the league, Alaska only missed the quarterfinals of this tournament twice this decade, in 2012 and 2017.
And their chances are getting thinner, unless the Aces pick up the pace.
Though citing those “rookie mistakes” in the endgame, Cariaso feels that his team is improving.
“It was a little better with regards to performance. They didn’t stop fighting,” he said of the losing stand against the Hotshots.
“If we continue staying disciplined, if we continue staying together no matter what happens, the wins will follow,” he added.
Cariaso could only hope his words become prophetic as Alaska still has six more games left to make things happen.
The Aces hope to notch their first win against another limping team in Rain or Shine, which they play on Sunday.
“Yes, of course,” he blurted out when asked if he is worried. “Are we playing the right way, have we improved from the last game? Yes, also,” said Cariaso.
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