The grand finale is set, and it is expected to be another heated battle until the last buzzer.
Alaska head coach Alex Compton was patiently scouting Game 4 of the San Miguel-Rain or Shine semi-final duel from the sidelines, and in less than 48 hours, it is his Aces’ time to take the floor against the Beermen, whose 117-110 win closed out the semis series, 3-1.
Beermen head coach Austria, meanwhile, exhausted from a grueling series against the never-back-down Elasto Painters, is happy to just have made it to the final stage again. Now, he is worried about the amount of gas left in his team’s tank.
But even if the two squads seem to be entering the finals in different directions, both mentors expect no less than a dogfight that may last for a long while.
The Beermen won the Philippine Cup months ago over the Aces, 4-3, but the upcoming series will be a lot different for both coaches with the presence of imports, the rise of new go-to guys, and a handful of other factors.
With just a day left before the league’s two best teams collide once more, here are what’s on the coaches’ minds.
On how a brief break poses a disadvantage to the team: “They want to be in the championship. My worry is the energy of the players because we did not have a day-off since the start of the playoffs. For me it is a disadvantage because we rely on scouting. But we are focused on (RoS) and have only one day only to prepare. We don’t know yet what to do. Alaska keep on winning because of their defense and running. How can we sustain our running gsme against them? But there are many ways to win although Iam worried sa energy ng team.”
On how they plan to prepare within the short amount of time: “We will see the tape of the championship. They are playing really well. A very cohesive team on a roll. The problem is our preparation. We do not have ample time to trace the things that made us a winner (in the PH Cup).”
On what it takes to win: “This is a different ball game. Kung sino siguro ang may will to win ang magpe-prevail. More or less we know what we are doing. Naga-alala lang talaga ako sa energy. Baka ang tendency nila is to relax. This is a series that is best of 7.”
On how to stop San Miguel’s stacked unit: “That’s what’s probably going to keep me up tonight. I know we are going to play hard. We have to come hard. We can’t be passive. We have to be aggressive. They are stacked and loaded. They have the most dominant local and the two-time best import. [But] we can play with them. This should be a good finals.”
On what should be expected in the finals: “We are going to play very hard. It’s just Alaska basketball. We cannot change that identity. Dalawang matigas ang ulo. That’s two rams battling on the mountain top for superiority. Let’s see who headbutts harder. They’re good, we’re good, it should be a good one. We wore each other out in the first finals and kung pwede lang nagvacation na lang kami noong second conference. Now we’re loaded, they are loaded.”
On how the imports change the outlook of the series: “That’s interesting. AZ [Reid] is a more prolific scorer. Romeo [Travis] is our all-around, do-it-all guy. I love Romeo’s intelligence but it is going to be everybody in Alaska bringing our best for us to win a chamoionship. It is not an individual match up for us. It’s our team stopping their team.”
On what plans he has for player match-ups: “I cannot pre-determine now. There are just stuff I am learning as a coach and you have to adjust. Part of it is the reaction and anticipation but right now I really have no idea.”