ALASKA coach Alex Compton expects the team to sustain its momentum despite coming off an eight-day break as the Aces try to finish off Rain or Shine in Game Six of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals encounter on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Aces hardly let-up in practice despite the holiday respite, according to Compton, whose hopeful the effort will reward the Aces with the right to face early finalist San Miguel Beer in the best-of-seven championship series.
Alaska holds a 3-2 lead over Rain or Shine entering the 5 p.m. game.
“Our energy has been fine. One of our emphases is our defensive intensity,” said Compton, who is eyeing his first Finals stint as coach since taking over from Luigi Trillo in last season’s Governors Cup.
“We need to be able to increase the level of our pressure while making sure on the offensive end that we are strong with the ball and don’t turn the ball over so much.”
The Aces’ defensive intensity begins from the backcourt, where old reliables JV Casio, Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros and pesky back-up guard Chris Exciminiano have been making life miserable for Rain or Shine’s platoon of guards, from Paul Lee, Tyrone Tang, Ryan Arana, to shooting guard Jeff Chan.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao explained at this point, the only thing the team needs to win Game Six is rediscover its desire to play and compete.
“To me, it’s basically matching their (Aces) desire to press, desire to grab the offensive rebounds and going for loose balls,” said Guiao, who gave the team a two-day break during the New Year festivities.
“It’s really the desire factor because if we can’t just even up at the desire factor, then nothing can help us, not our system, or our investment with one another, not even our game plan can help,” he added.
Guiao said he saw a ray of hope the past two days when players arrived two hours earlier at the Nega gym in San Juan to start working on their shooting.
“(On New Year’s Day), 12 pa lang, nandun na sila, eh 2 p.m. pa ang ensayo. I think maganda naman. Di rin naman nagsitabaan ang mga players,” said Guiao, who is looking to steer the Asian Coating franchise to a third straight Finals appearance in the All-Filipino conference.
A victory by Rain or Shine would arrange a sudden death match on Wednesday.