ALASKA coach Alex Compton admitted he already envisioned a do-or-die game against Ginebra at the height of the Aces’ comeback late in a 109-104 loss to the Gin Kings in their PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal matchup.
The Aces almost climbed out of deep 26-point hole as they came as close as one point of Ginebra in the endgame, only to see Justin Brownlee bank in a dagger three-pointer that restored order for the Gin Kings.
“You can’t dig yourself out of that big a hole,” Compton said. “As hard as we fight, it’s still too big of a hole to get out of.”
“That three off the glass didn’t help,” he added. “I thought we were going to come back and win it, and really put some pressure on them on Sunday. We didn’t.”
As a result, the Aces failed to reach the semifinals after reaching the finals in the season's first two conferences.
“I guess us and Rain or Shine will have a little bit of a rest,” Compton said of the reigning Commissioner's Cup titlist. “I don’t think either of us expected to not be in the semis.”
“In terms of the year, we did pretty well: we’ll be picking eleventh (in the draft), which means we had the second-best record in the league, but we don’t have any championships to show for,” he added.
But no less than a championship is what Compton wants for his wards.
“These guys work so hard every day that I make them do stuff that I don’t let you guys, see,” the American mentor said. “It’s really hard and challenging. And they do it and step up to the challenge and they’ve built a resiliency throughout that. And I’m proud of that.
"It’s really like a fatherly feeling for your kids: I want them to experience a championship because they deserve it,” he added. “I just want them to get over the hump.”
At the very least, the Aces have gained valuable experience.
“I actually think that the three-conference format is such an awesome life teacher,” Compton said. “This, we get the painful lesson, which is you have to value every possession and start out better.”
“I’m proud to coach this group of guys and to work for this organization, but I’m hoping that the pain of this loss and a little bit of a break and rest will help us get better heading into the all-Filipino,” he added.