OTHER than gaining a twice-to-beat advantage, finishing on top of the eliminations means nothing for Alex Compton.
That’s the reason why the Alaska coach is reminding his Aces not to get way ahead of themselves as they take on a dangerous Barangay Ginebra side in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Before losing a no-bearing game to GlobalPort, 117-104, last Tuesday, the Aces had ridden the crest of a four-game winning streak that clinched for them the top seed after ending the regular season with eight wins in 11 games.
But getting to the top in the beginning doesn’t automatically translate to finishing on top in the end.
“Purefoods is always such a great example for me,” Compton said. “When they won four straight (titles), they never ended first. But Talk ‘N Text won when they were first and San Miguel beat us in the Philippine Cup and they were first.”
“So it doesn’t really mean you can’t or won’t win either way,” the American mentor added. “It just means we have a good seed. But we have to do something with it.”
And the Aces, bannered by hardworking import Romeo Travis, and locals Calvin Abueva, Jayvee Casio, and Chris Banchero, hope they won’t have to use their incentive as they seek to finish off the Gin Kings in their 7 p.m. showdown.
Advancing to the semifinals early is easier said than done, though, as the Aces face a Ginebra side that’s regaining its old, familiar never-say-die attitude, evidenced by two victories in do-or-die games, a 120-98 taming of Barako Bull and a 110-107 decision against NLEX last Wednesday.
Those back-to-back victories, coupled by a Kia win over Meralco, allowed the Gin Kings to catch the last bus to the playoffs, where they face another sudden death.
The league’s crowd favorites, though, will have to solve the Aces’ trademark suffocating full-court defense to force a deciding game.
“Alam naman natin ang Alaska, they press a lot and try to limit your sets to a certain number of seconds and they’re good at it,” Gin Kings coach Frankie Lim said. “So we’ll try to have a good plan for that.”
Gin Kings Asian import Jiwan Kim, who made some crucial baskets in the hard-earned win versus the Road Warriors, is more concerned of their own play rather than what the Aces pose.
“It’s just a matter of how we’re going to fit together and build up our team chemistry and as long as we execute what we have to do, it doesn’t matter which team we play against,” said the Korean shooter, who is expected to provide support for fellow import Orlando Johnson, as well as stars Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, and LA Tenorio.