The 3 straight timeouts Alaska coach Alex Compton called at the start of Game 7 came was a gamble that came with a heavy price in the end: the Aces were reduced to a footnote of the historic comeback of the San Miguel Beermen.
Compton confessed that he had sleepless nights heading into the ill-fated Game 7.
“One of the things I thought of was how do we make San Miguel play Alaska basketball,” Compton revealed in the post-game press conference.
“Pound for pound, San Miguel is the most talented and excellently coached basketball team. You try to find a way to play the strongest team in the league with a healthy June Mar (Fajardo) and stop them,” he said.
“We just need to find that one possession to tilt the favor on us,” said Compton recalling their 2-point loss in Game 7 in the same conference last year.
But alas, it did not pan out as what he had imagined it to be, as the Beermen raced to an early 10-point lead and never looked back.
While Compton did not give away the real answer and let reporters speculate on that bizarre move, his veteran guard Dondon Hontiveros shed some light into it.
“If you noticed the move of coach Alex at the start of the game, that’s because he wanted us to run,” he said.
By using all of his 3 mandatory TV timeouts, Compton was able to reduce the stoppage time that could give the Beermen a breather as they employed platoon substitutions to keep fresh legs on the floor for their signature pressure defense.
It almost worked, but Chris Ross and Arwind Santos hurt them with timely 3-pointers that stopped their rally.
“Coach Alex trusts us big-time. He doesn’t want to call a timeout thinking that we’ll be there in the end,” Hontiveros said.
While they were able to cut a 17-point deficit to just 5 at the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, they eventually lost steam and ran out of timeouts.
“I have a strange feeling that it’s a ploy and they want to disrupt our game plan. What I was thinking was that they were already panicking,” said Austria of Compton’s bold move to start the game.
He rallied his team and implored them to play their usual game and not mind the unusual tactics employed by Alaska.
“They paid dearly for it because in the endgame, when they needed a lot of timeouts, they no longer had it,” Austria said.