ALASKA coach Alex Compton was left frustrated after his team failed to sustain its gains from a promising offseason, surrendering a 108-95 defeat at the hands of Magnolia in their PBA Philippine Cup debut on Wednesday night.
Oozing with confidence following a rigorous training camp that put their forgettable last two conferences behind, the Aces instead gave up an early lead to the Hotshots and couldn’t find their groove down the stretch.
“What’s crazy is we were really good in practice for two weeks, and then, I don’t know if it’s the first game gigil, but the way we’ve been moving the ball, executing, how we played pressure defense, the way we were rotating on the defensive end,” Compton said.
The Aces did show signs of potential as they erected a 20-10 lead in the first quarter, only to give up their cushion in the second canto, never to regain it again as Paul Lee, still recovering from a knee injury, caught fire, pouring in 25 of his 30 points – on 11-of-14 shooting – in the last three quarters.
“The first group started well and everything was downhill from there,” he added. “You got to give credit to Magnolia.”
“Paul Lee may have missed one shot, I don’t know,” he added. “He was just incredible. He’s a great player. As painful as this is for me, it’s really frustrating more than anything, I’m happy for him because he’s coming off a knee surgery, and I know how, as a player, how tough it can be to play injured a lot. But he was awesome.”
Compton was just hoping the Aces could’ve sustained their strong start until the endgame.
“My frustration was us, I wish we could’ve given Magnolia the game that I know we have in us, and played the way we’ve been playing the last few weeks,” the American coach said. “We were doing well and then the lights came on.”
“We talked about being gigil, being excited, it’s a different atmosphere, you want to bounce back, and everybody should just slow down,” he added. “We didn’t slow down, we sped up; we sped up in the wrong places and we slowed down mentally in places where we needed to be quicker.”