TWO longtime coaching partners find themselves on opposite benches as Alaska and Phoenix tangle in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alex Compton and Louie Alas face off the first time since the latter took on the Fuel Masters’ coaching job after serving as co-head coach/top deputy of Compton for three years in the Uytengsu organization.
Alas, however, played down the matchup with Compton, an old friend he has known since the Manila Metrostars days in the Metropolitan Basketball Association where Compton played under Alas.
“Nothing special,” Alas insisted in a phone conversation with SPIN.ph on the eve of the match that tips off at 7 p.m. “Kung ano lang yung kagustuhan naming manalo, ganun pa rin. Gusto ko lang kaming magkaroon ng winning attitude eh, so we want to win not because of Alaska.”
The Fuel Masters are eager to build on an impressive 87-82 victory over Ginebra last Friday that jacked up their record to .500, 3-3, while the Aces hope to sustain the momentum of a four-game winning streak after starting the conference with two losses.
Both coaches employ basically the same system anchored on suffocating full-court defense.
“It will be interesting, kasi alam naman natin na physical maglaro yung team na yun eh, and we’re trying to be a physical team also,” Alas said. “Kung titingnan mo yung comparative stats, konting-konti lang yung difference sa lahat ng departments, except sa turnovers – kami yung mas marami, so we need to minimize it, kasi hindi ka pwede magbigay ng extra possession dun eh.”
Alas stressed his familiarity with Compton and the Aces players is hardly an edge for the Fuel Masters.
“Pamilyar din naman si coach Alex sa akin eh, so walang advatange. Pareho lang,” Alas said, noting the current kind of officiating even favors Alaska.
“Sabi ko nga, itong officiating ngayon – para naman sa lahat – sila yung most fitted dun, kasi ma-kamay yan, ma-katawan,” Alas said. “Kaya nga medyo bumaba yung performance niyan nung last four conferences, because medyo manipis yung tawagan. Ngayon, sapul na sapul para sa kanila yan.”
So does the officiating that allows players more leeway in terms of physicality also favor the Fuel Masters considering they also run the same defensive style of play?
“Hindi ko pa masasabi dahil hindi nga kultura ng team na ‘to yung ganun, ‘di ba? So ini-instill ko pa lang,” Alas said. “So far naman, I’m satisfied the way they play basketball. Pero hindi pa second nature. And yun yung gusto ko ma-acquire namin – maging second nature kahit hindi ka na magsalita.”
TNT KaTropa, tied in fourth spot with Phoenix and three others teams at 3-3, takes on depleted Kia (1-5) in the first game at 4:30 p.m.