ALASKA coach Jeff Cariaso said the Aces didn’t look at Magnolia on Saturday as a game they needed to win order to capture their first victory.
Cariaso said he felt that the Aces should have won the match against TNT in their first game in the bubble, and their 100-95 loss to the eventual first placer so far in the conference is a product of their own undoing.
“We approached this game thinking we are 1-1,” said Cariaso. “I say that because we felt like we should have won the first game. Mistakes we made were our mistakes, things that we could control.”
The mindset paid off as the Aces picked up the initial win, beating a Magnolia side that is still on a high following the 103-100 victory over NLEX last Wednesday that saw Paul Lee hit a four-point play.
“When you approach that way compared to being 0-2, your mindset is different,” Cariaso added.
Incidentally, it was the defense against guys such as Lee that, for Cariaso, led Alaska to the victory. For one, Lee scored 14 points but had to earn his baskets, shooting just four of 16 from the field, his conversions coming from the three-point line.
Lee was 6 of 16 on 4 of 9 shooting from threes in the NLEX game.
“You come into this game against a very well-coached and a very talented Magnolia team. They have superstars on that team that you have to be worried about. To be able to step up and be better defensively was I think my biggest take on tonight’s game,” said Cariaso.