ANTIPOLO - Alaska finishing as bridesmaid to Magnolia in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup left a bad taste in Mike Harris' mouth. So much so that this early, he expressed his desire to make a return trip next season.
"If they’ll have me back, I’d love to be," said this conference's Best Import on Wednesday after the Aces suffered a 102-86 Game Six defeat to the Hotshots to lose the best-of-seven series, 4-2.
Harris gave it his all for Alaska, collecting 26 points, 24 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block, but his efforts alone could not stop the deluge that Magnolia brought in the clincher.
However, as much as he'd like to be gracious in defeat, Harris bared that he got irked when someone from the Hotshots even went to as far as mocking the Aces after the game.
"They did a great job. They did what they were supposed to do. Nothing but respect for those guys. They earned it, they deserved it. We were one or two possessions away, but nothing but respect for those guys," he said.
"But someone made a gesture that I’ll never forget. One of them made a remark and I’ll never forget it, so I got a little fuel in my tank to try to come back next year if they’ll still have me."
Reporters still tried to ask Harris who from the Hotshots he was referring to, but the reinforcement opted to keep it to himself.
"They mocked us. It was just a lack of respect, total disrespect of character for a person to be like that especially someone of their age and respect in the league," he said.
"But it’s okay, don’t worry about it. It’s part of the game, they’re excited. But it’s something I’ll never forget and it’s great fuel for next year if they’ll have me back."
Harris is no stranger to these situations, with the 35-year-old NBA veteran also being on the receiving end of a taunt in his first stint with Leones de Ponce in Puerto Rico.
After that defeat, it didn't take long before he won back-to-back titles in Baloncesto Superior Nacional in 2014 and 2015, for which he was named as the Finals MVP.
"I had something similar to this happen to me in Puerto Rico a few years ago. I lost in the Finals 4-2, exact same thing, and then immediately re-signed. I came back and won back-to-back championships," he said.
"It’s heartbreaking, especially with them, with the things they’ve had in the past of continuing to go to the championship. But the team and the franchise are definitely making a step in the right direction.
"I think we were in the semis in the all-Filipino, and then semifinals last conference, and then this one to make it to the finals. We’re making steps in the right direction. We got off to a slow start in the first few games and (Magnolia) made us pay for it. Right now, it's their time."
With redemption in mind, Harris said that it won't be that much hard for coach Alex Compton now to secure his services anew for the Aces.
"They just got a different type of offense. I understand it now, so I know the stuff that I need to work on if they have me back," he said. "They chased me for eight years, so it’s my turn to chase them for a few months now."