ALASKA coach Alex Compton said as long as the Aces have healthy bodies on the bench, they will be ready to compete against a rugged Rain or Shine squad on Saturday in their sudden death semifinal match in the PBA Governors Cup.
At the end of a painful 121-123 overtime loss to the Elasto Painters in Game Four on Thursday, the Aces had three injured players - Dondon Hontiveros and Gabby Espinas, who both sprained their ankles as well as JVee Casio, who hurt his left knee after slipping on a wet spot while trying to go for an unmolested layup in overtime.
“I really wish I could be celebrating, but as painful as the loss was again, I’m proud of the guys, their heart was tremendous,” Compton said after the game which saw the Elasto Painters level the series at 2-2 in the best-of-five semifinals.
Compton said he wouldn’t rule his three injured players out for Game Five, though if they are not healthy enough to play on Saturday, he won’t force the issue.
“It’s too early to tell. But if it’s (injury) really bad, I will never ever ask the players to risk their careers,” said the Alaska rookie coach.
“It’s a team sport, somebody goes down, somebody’s got to step up.”
The soft-spoken American coach said he didn’t get a chance to talk a lot with import Henry Walker, who was tossed out of the game in the 6:24 mark of regulation play for elbowing Paul Lee at the back of the head.
Walker is set to appear before PBA commissioner Chito Salud on Friday at 3 p.m. at the league’s office.
“I didn’t get a chance to talk to him (Walker) too much. But we all make mistakes. We all have breakdowns and I believe in second chances,” said the 40-year-old Compton.
“But the biggest thing is basketball is not an individual sport. So If Sonny gets into foul trouble, fouls out in the first half, halimbawa, we got to keep going,” he said.
“If Dondon goes down, we have to keep on going. JV goes down, we got to keep going. We still got players on the court, we got to keep battling, that’s our thrust.”
The sudden death between Rain or Shine and Alaska is set this Saturday, 5 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the winner advancing to the best-of-five championship series.