WHAT was supposed to be just a short, light practice on the eve of a game dragged on for another three hours for Alaska for a secret team-building session inside its dugout at the Hoops Center on Thursday.
Waiting reporters and fans at the lobby were all wondering what was taking the Aces too long.
And when they finally emerged one by one, Aces coach Alex Compton politely declined to divulge details of his long meeting with his players ahead of their PBA Philippine Cup encounter against Phoenix on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
“It was nice to talk about some stuff and listen to people talk about some stuff. How’s that for descriptive?” the American coach asked with a smile.
Asked if it was some sort of a heart-to-heart talk with his wards, Compton nodded his head.
“You could say that (it was a heart-to-heart),” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done that. It’s something I wanted us to go through. I am proud and blessed to coach this group.”
“‘Til you’re good enough to put on an Alaska uniform, that’s as far as we’re going, man,” he added with a smile.
What was crystal clear, however, was their situation in the all-Filipino conference – the Aces are joint sixth with Globalport and Ginebra with a 5-4 win-loss record and a victory in the 7 p.m. matchup will reward them with a postseason berth.
“We still have to win to get in (the playoffs),” Compton said. “We’re not used to being on the outside, so it’s important for us.”
Compton expects the Fuel Masters, running second with TNT KaTropa at 6-4 and already assured of a quarterfinal spot, to give the defense-minded Aces a dose of their own medicine.
“I expect them to play some zone, different versions of zone – zone-to-man, man-to-zone, whether they use their phone booth or two-three, or different things that they have, throw their full-court presses at us, and we just got to be ready to play,” Compton said.
“Phoenix is a legitimate number two in the standings and we hope to make them be something less than number two in the standings,” he added.