STAR is down 0-2, frustrated and in danger of losing the only remaining jewel from its grand slam a year ago.
The Hotshots are also at a loss.
Veteran forward Marc Pingris typified the Hotshots' struggles, admitting they are left searching for answers on what has gone wrong this season after everything worked to perfection for the team last year.
“Ibang-iba talaga kami ngayon kumpara last year. 'Yun nga rin ang gusto kong itanong kay coach (Tim Cone), sa mga teammates ko at saka sarili ko eh,” said Pingris. “Dahil ba nakatikim kami ng grand slam? Hindi ko alam eh. San galing 'yun eh (problema). Walang makapagsabi eh.”
“Kahit si coach, sana masabi sa amin kung saan nanggagaling problema na 'yun,” he added.
In contrast, Alaska seems to have all the answers, with coach Alex Compton crediting Cone's former players and assistant coaches who are now in his team for helping him solve the pet triangle offense of a coach he describes as the best in the league, bar none.
Compton is surrounded by players and coaches who were with Cone when the Uytengsu franchise still leaned on the triangle offense, among them Sonny Thoss, Tony Dela Cruz, Cyrus Baguio, Paolo Bugia and Sam Eman and coaching staff members Jeff Cariaso and Topex Robinson.
All these people learned from the best, Compton said.
“Anytime you get to learn from a coach like that (Cone), it helps. But it’s not even so much about playing so much against them, it just sure helps you in coaching and in playing in general that you gotta be around the best,” said Compton.
“So I think that helps us to take some inputs from them.”
Asked if having those men in his side gave him an advantage in finding an antidote to Cone’s long-utilized offensive system, Compton did not mince any words.
“It’s an advantage for me, because I have a lot of weaknesses. And I need help, it’s an advantage for me that those guys learned from the best,” he said.
"Yeah. I mean everything helps, but I really don’t think we have them figured out, I think it’s more about our effort and energy, more than anything else,” he added.
View video of interview with Compton, Yap and Pingris:
Star main man James Yap, however, is not giving up.
“Bounce back lang kami, di pa tapos ang semis, sana makabalik kami. Do or die na naman ito sa amin, dapat next games pinakamagandang performance ang ibigay namin,” said the soft-spoken Yap.
“Nagkakanya-kanya kami eh. Kailangan talaga we play as a team,” he added.
Both Yap and Pingris bared they are rallying their teammates to be more organized.
“Hindi talaga kami organized. Next game, sana 'yun nga we play as a team,” said Yap.
Pingris, for his part, declared: “Kailangan naming mag-usap saan nanggaling ang problema eh. Ako, si Rafi (Reavis) at si James. Lagi naming sinasabihan ng teammates namin.”