Alaska may have fallen short of a championship in its 4 Finals trips in the last 5 conferences, but the Aces’ runner-up finishes the past 2 seasons is a testament to the character the team developed under sophomore coach Alex Compton.
Team governor Dickie Bachman said the Wilfred Uytengsu-owned franchise has always put premium on character building, a reason why it was not difficult for management to extend Compton to a fresh 3-year deal with the Aces.
“I think his (Compton) biggest contribution so far is how he has helped develop our team character,” Bachman told FOX Sports on Saturday. “Coming from a tough loss in the previous conference, it would have been easy to give up,” he added.
Bachman was referring to Alaska’s championship meltdown in the Philippine Cup, which saw the Aces blow a 3-0 lead, losing 4 straight to San Miguel Beer in the Finals.
Now known as the “Beer-acle” run, San Miguel became the very first team ever in the PBA’s 41-year history to come back from a 0-3 Finals series deficit en route to winning the championship.
But the Aces managed to let go of their bitter ending in the All-Filipino, working hard in the Commissioner’s Cup to reach the Finals again.
In fact, Alaska encountered some speed bumps in its trip to the Finals after losing key players JV Casio and Vic Manuel to injuries.
Still, the Aces managed to win back-to-back games in the Finals after falling to a 0-3 hole, before ceding the Commissioner’s Cup title last Wednesday via a 109-92 defeat to Rain or Shine in Game 6.
“Alex and the entire coaching staff have worked extremely hard to prepare the players before every conference since he took over in 2014,” Bachman said.
“Under his leadership, the team has entered the playoffs consistently and has made the Finals 4 times in the last 5 conferences,” he added.
The amiable Alaska governor has high hopes that Compton will come out as an even better coach as he helps and learns from Gilas national mentor Tab Baldwin.
The 42-year-old Compton is expected to report for duty, along Alaska forward Calvin Abueva and Rain or Shine stalwarts Paul Lee, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood come Tuesday when Gilas continues its regular practice.
The national team is shooting for a spot in the Rio Olympics as it prepares for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila starting July 5. – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava