THEY may have toppled San Miguel Beer in the regular season, but that hardly counts for Alaska in the biggest stage of PBA Philippine Cup.
That’s what Aces coach Alex Compton is keeping in mind as they prepare of Game One of the all-Filipino conference Finals on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
In their only meeting in the elimination round, the streaking Aces nipped the Beermen, 66-63, for their fourth straight victory of the season-opening conference.
But Compton refused to put much weight into the result heading into the best-of-seven title series.
“I don’t think it really means anything at this point nothing, other than I think we’re capable of beating them in a game,” the rookie American mentor told Spin.ph after the Aces’ practice on the eve of the opener.
After all, Compton feels the Beermen have improved by leaps and bounds since that game that marked their first defeat in four games and star slotman June Mar Fajardo was held to a conference-low 10 points. The reigning MVP from Cebu did have 16 boards, three assists, and three blocks, against three turnovers in 37 minutes.
“It was early in the season,” he said. “We were playing a certain style that nobody else in the league plays, trying to press and force some turnovers. And I don’t think June Mar had been with the team very long.”
“When you build your offense around such a dominant guy when he’s only been there about ten days, it still takes players time to jell, so I don’t think they were full jelled yet. Now, they’re just a lot better.”
The Beermen have lost once in seven games since then, before sweeping Talk ‘N Text in the semifinals while Fajardo has once again emerged as the leading Best Player of the Conference candidate.
Good thing, the Aces, who finished the elims with an 8-3 win-loss card, dispatched NLEX and Meralco in the two-phase quarterfinals, before surviving Rain or Shine in six games in the Final Four, improved as well.
“We also became better, but (we still play) very similar,” Compton believes.