Entering the best-of-seven PBA Governors’ Cup Finals series, one of the storylines was Magnolia’s Chito Victolero and Alaska’s Alex Compton coming full circle.
From being teammates 20 years ago with the then-MBA franchise Manila Metrostars, they are now squaring off as head coaches in the championship round.
But as the series progressed, things got heated between both squads. And when things got heated, the coaches got involved.
It all started with Compton crying foul over the non-calls his players received.
“For this game, the Alaska players were holding my players and they were not calling fouls,” Compton rued.
“I just want consistency. He’s starting to call the attention of the referees. I don’t know what happened.”
And when Alaska took Game 3, Victolero gave a response.
“Coach Alex is doing a good job also of calling the attention of the referees last game. I think nakuha na niya yung attention of the referees doon sa sinasabi niya, na my guards keep on fouling and my guards are playing dirty,” lamented Victolero.
“The referees are not calling on our side and the referees are calling on their side. I kept on reviewing the tapes wala namang masama yung mga players ko.”
Then the tipping point came during Game 4.
“Somebody punched Mike (Harris) in the testicles; somebody punched Chris (Banchero) in the testicles. At what point is it gonna get called?” a furious Compton said after Alaska knotted the series.
“Sabi lang niya yun. Hindi naman siya referee eh, coach siya,” responded Victolero.
Many expected that Game 5 was going to be the most heated of all the games. It ended up being more — it ended up being an all-time classic.
Neither the Aces nor the Hotshots budged as the game saw 12 lead changes and nine deadlocks.
“You guys remember long time Wednesday night when I was saying how hard they play and how hard we play?” recalled Compton.
“Man, that was basketball!”
“Aatakihin ako sa puso!” Victolero quipped.
And it all came down to the final seconds.
A wild possession resulted to Paul Lee getting a loose ball and knocking down a leaner to give Magnolia a 79-78 lead with 1.3 seconds left.
“It was a great game, one of the classics in terms of the PBA Finals,” said Victolero, who was gracious in victory.
“The game was well-officiated.”
“Is it just me or it’s just an instant classic?” shared Compton, who was not sour in defeat.
And come Game 6, both coaches agree that it is a must-watch for all basketball fans.
“It will be a same game come Game Six. This is what the Finals is. Ito talaga yun e,” opined Victolero.
“I expect a dogfight.”
“I am a basketball fan so I will be watching on Wednesday, but I would say all basketball fans should watch,” thought Compton.
“I mean, man, these two teams can’t play any harder, really.”