Down two-games-to-none in their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals showdown against Rain or Shine, Alaska certainly needs everything it could get to turn things around starting on Wednesday night’s Game 3 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
But that doesn’t mean Aces coach Alex Compton is willing to risk his wounded players just to gain a fighting chance against the Elasto Painters.
“I never force players who are injured,” said Compton on Tuesday after wrapping up their training session at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.
With top playmaker JVee Casio already out for the rest of the mid-season conference due to a right knee injury, Alaska will continue to miss the services of vital cog Vic Manuel and back-up center Eric Menk, leaving the Aces’ bench undermanned again against the Painters’ complete set of shocktroopers.
That key factor was in full display in Rain or Shine’s 105-103 escape act in Game 2 last Sunday when the Painters’ bench outscored their Aces counterpart by a mile 62-22.
The 6-foot-4 Manuel has expressed his desire to suit up despite a lingering tear on his right calf muscle but Compton isn’t ready to give him any favor.
“He’s got a whole career so he provided for his family. If I did something to force him into a worse injury, it sets him back more. It’s selfish and it’s wrong. So we won’t do that,” Compton said.
“If he can come back and play, if the doctors see him 100 percent, he will play. If he can’t and he’s injured, I won’t risk him. I’ll never do that for any player,” he added.
Virtually facing a ‘must-win’ game, the Aces still have what it takes to get the job done, according to Compton.
“Every game is a must-win. I don’t really treat any game different. In terms of where we’re at, it will be harder if we’re going to be down 3-0 than being down 2-1. And so I think the answer is obvious. We’ll just have to come out and try to be sharper,” he said.
“We have a few breakdowns that they capitalized on and hopefully we will be sharper to be able to get one,” Compton concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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