THE extra work Mike Harris and the rest of the Alaska squad put in during a long layoff paid off as the Aces returned to their winning ways on Wednesday night.
Coming off a loss to Ginebra last September 2, Alaska beat Rain or Shine, 106-89, to improve its record to 4-1, good for a share of third place with Blackwater in the PBA Governors Cup standings.
Harris dominated with 39 points and 25 rebounds in the win then later hailed the Alaska coaching staff for preparing the team and making practices competitive during the month-long layoff.
“We did a really good job with our coaching staff in kinda simulating game situations,” said Harris. “We had a couple of scrimmages with each other and got really competitive. But it’s hard to simulate a game especially when you don’t have those players that the opposing teams have. We did a really good job at being competitive.”
Being a trash talker helped make practices competitive, Harris added.
“I’m a big competitor. I’m a huge trash talker in practice. When we split up into teams, once we start stretching, I’m talking trash to somebody on the opposing team. And my teammates responded well. They don’t take it in a negative way and we are all competing.
"Every drill, we are all trying to focus on being locked in defensively and get stops, and convert on the other end. Every day has been a competition and that is what it is supposed to be,” said Harris.
With the team idle after its lone scheduled game against Blackwater during that 30-day stretch was cancelled to give way to Meralco’s campaign in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, Harris also got the time to fully recover from injury.
“The break helped us,” said coach Alex Compton. “If we have three games in a row after Mike sprained his ankle, I don’t know where we would be. But there’s a big possibility we would be 3-4.”
“Having the break to be able to get his body right, where he can take a few weeks off, get rehab, and get his ankle right, that helped,” said Compton of his 35-year-old import. “And it really showed that today.”
Harris also took time out to bring with him a few of his teammates for extra work during the layoff.
“After practice, we always stay. I take some guys with me, get a little bit of extra work and working on our stuff. It has been carrying over a lot. You want to make it contagious,” said Harris.