DESPITE opening the Commissioner’s Cup minus two of its best players, coach Alex Compton refuses to use it as an excuse after Alaska’s 108-88 loss at the hands of defending champion Purefoods on Tuesday night.
Starting center Sonny Thoss was out due to a right plantar fascia injury, while point guard JV Casio also sat out the game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum due to a wrist injury.
Compton said the 6-foot-7 Thoss could be out indefinitely, while Casio, the team’s top three-point gunner and playmaker, may miss a few more games.
“Those guys (Thoss and Casio) are important players for us for sure, but we have 16 great leaders in the team,” said the Alaska mentor.
“It’s just that our defense was missing in action. I think we left it in the Finals, and I think we have to go back to the past and bring it back.”
The American coach said the fact the Hotshots got 48 points on fastbreak plays alone only goes to show the Aces failed to quickly react defensively the way they did during the Philippine Cup.
“We just gave a ton of open layups,” rued the 40-year-old Compton, whose team is coming off a tough, seven-game Finals series against champion San Miguel Beer.
“If you give it (layups) consistently over three quarters, it’s gonna be a long, long night so we took it (loss) to the chin and got beat by a great team for sure.”
Compton also refused to pin the blame on import DJ Covington, who debuted for 19 points but only had five rebounds, while picking up his fourth foul early in the third canto.
The Alaska coach said with just six days of practice, it would be hard to expect a lot from, the 6-foot-6 import, a two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014 while playing for Virginian Military Institute.
“It’s tough because we spent seven or eight weeks really teaching our defense during the preseason, then, we have the whole conference to sharpen it and keep teaching, but then, in six days (preparing for the Commissioner’s Cup), we still try to figure out our rotation,” explained Compton.
“So the volume of information we have to keep it simple, for now, we have to lay the building blocks. It takes time to graduate to the next level,” he added.
The Aces return to action on Saturday when they play the NLEX Road Warriors at the San Juan Arena.