By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
LARGELY banged-up after a gruelling campaign last season that saw them play 14 months, the Alaska Aces recognize that the just-started Season 44 of the Philippine Basketball Association will be a rough for them one early on. But they are bent on not allowing the thought consume their bid too much even as they vow to continue to play at par with their standards as a franchise.
Meeting members of the press last week in the PBA’s first-ever Media Day at the Tent of Solaire Resort and Casino, Alaska coach Alex Compton shared that they are taking a “one step back, two steps forward” approach in the early goings of the new season of the local professional league with many of their players still injured, which forced them to push back their preparation.
“All of us coaches would love to have a preseason to prepare and practice. In our case we don’t have a preseason with all our injuries. Ideally we should have six weeks of practice but us we start on Monday (today). We felt what is the point of practicing early if they are all broken down and banged-up and we can’t play five-on-five,” said Mr. Compton in an interview with BusinessWorld during media day.
“I think this will be a one step backward and two steps forward for us because we’re the last team to practice and we got so many injured guys. At anything you do, you have to practice, you have to prepare. So it’s going to be a challenge early,” he added.
The amiable Alaska coach said they are expecting to miss Vic Manuel for much, if not for the entire duration, of the season-opening Philippine Cup because of back injury while starting guard Simon Enciso is decommissioned for at least six weeks after undergoing a procedure on his knee.
Also nursing varying injuries are JVee Casio, Chris Banchero and Sonny Thoss.
Mr. Compton said good thing for them was that the league scheduled the team to play several weeks after than the rest of the field, along with the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok whom they faced and lost to in the Governors’ Cup a month ago, allowing them some time to work on their game.
“With all our injuries, had we to start on opening day it will be a big problem for us. I think the league was right in having us play later than the others because the finals [of the Governors’ Cup] ended on Dec. 19. So compared with most of the teams which had over a month to prepare, we have the fewest time to rest before the season starts,” said the coach, whose wards begin their Philippine Cup campaign on Feb. 3 against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Notwithstanding the current predicament they are in, Mr. Compton said it is still important for them to play and represent their team the right way, adhering to the standards they have set for themselves.
“While we have to deal with all these, we also must not lose our standards,” the Alaska coach underscored.
“There is a certain level of effort and energy that we demand of ourselves but at the same time we need to be realistic and manage our expectations. In the process, however, we must not compromise our standards,” Mr. Compton added.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo