After failing in its first two attempts, Alaska has finally solved the Magnolia puzzle, taking a commanding 100-71 win in Game Three of their 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup best-of-seven Finals series late Sunday night at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
It was the Hotshots’ worst Finals loss ever since the franchise entered the Asia’s oldest professional league in 1988. Magnolia (Purefoods) had a previous record of 28-point losing margin in Game Five of the 1997 Governors’ Cup Finals, coincidentally, also against the Aces.
But there’s nothing to celebrate, according to head coach Alex Compton, as the only thing that the Aces have done was to trim their series deficit to 1-2.
“If you ask me, would I rather have won this game by that score or be up 2-1? I’d gladly be up 2-1 after winning two one-point overtime games,” Compton, who was a teammate of Chito Victolero back in the late 90s with the Manila Metrostars, reflected.
“We’re still down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we won. It’s better to win, it’s a great coaching strategy, but we’re still down 2-1.”
Still though, it was highly-needed win for Alaska which Compton deemed as a total team effort.
“I think we had a great defensive effort. We made a bunch of shots, we didn’t turn it over, and we defended with the same kind of intensity,” he added as the Aces dodged a potential 0-3 bullet that could have dealt the killer blow on their title hopes.
Mike Harris led the way for Alaska with 36 points and 18 rebounds including a scintillating 22-point eruption in the third period.
For Compton, however, the heroes for this game were his shocktroppers led by Carl Bryan Cruz and Jake Pascual who stepped up big time for the hobbling starting big man Vic Manuel.
“Jake and Bryan I thought were fantastic today. It’s so tough, guys, to manage people. As people we all have our flaws and weaknesses,” he beamed.
“I love (how) Jake and Bryan have never complained, they do the work, they bring it every day, and they’re always ready, and they deserve a reward today.”
The versatile forward Cruz tallied 10 points on 2-of-4 shooting from downtown. Pascual, on the end, didn’t score a point but had five rebounds and two blocks to hold his own against the Magnolia big men especially Ian Sangalang who bled for just seven markers.
As big as their victory was in Game Three, Compton is not expecting a similar result in Game Four where Magnolia will be surely coming out with guns ablaze.
“I’m not into guarantees, but I can almost guarantee you that there won’t be another game like this in the Finals. That’s what I think. They’re too good, too well-coached, they’re too talented, they have too much experience, and we just made some shots,” he said.
“Magnolia’s a great team, full of warriors, well-coached, well-analyzed, great coaching staff. They’re gonna come back and bring it on Wednesday. And we’re gonna try and come back and bring the same level of intensity. I don’t expect for one minute that Game Four will be anything like this one.”
Game Four is set on Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
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