CURRENTLY staring at a 0-2 hole in the best-of-seven finals of the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association, Alaska is certainly in a stage wherein it needs to sort things out to salvage its chances.
Through two games in the finale, Aces coach Alex Compton doesn’t feel that his team is playing up to par.
Hence, Alaska is down, 0-2, to Rain or Shine and needs to gather itself sooner than later.
“We haven’t played smart enough and we haven’t played hard enough yet to win,” admitted Compton.
The mild-mannered coach conceded that he feels his team’s usual sharpness still isn’t there in the series.
“We gotta earn it with a lot more precision. That’s for sure,” added Compton. “We’re just not sharp enough.”
With Game 3 on the horizon tomorrow, Alaska is facing a must-win situation against a tough and confident Rain or Shine squad.
Compton said that the Aces need to show their true character to finally be able to notch a much needed victory.
“Our general team character is one of great resolve. We got to go out and show that to earn a win.”
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao added a specific factor why Rain or Shine is ahead and Alaska isn’t at par at this point.
Guiao pointed out that Alaska superstar Calvin Abueva, who is the frontrunner for the Best Player of the Conference Award, isn’t himself so far in the finals.
“Calvin hasn’t played his usual game the last two games and that is a big factor,” said Guiao.
On Sunday, Paul Lee knocked down the game-winning shot at the buzzer to lift Rain or Shine to a thrilling 105-103 squeaker over Alaska.
With the game tied at 103-all with 27 seconds left, the Elasto Painters went to Lee and he dished out to an open Beau Belga, who missed a triple from the left corner.
But Lee saved the day for Rain or Shine as he grabbed the offensive rebound after Belga’s miss with around three seconds left and he immediately jacked up a medium-range elbow jumper which he drained to give the Painters the victory in this game of spurts.
“Nag-focus lang ako sa last play. Pagtingin ko sa clock, may 2 seconds pa so itinira ko and pumasok,” said Lee. “Tulong-tulong lang kami and stick sa gameplan kaya we got the win.”
Game 2 is scheduled Wednesday night, also at the Big Dome, with Rain or Shine shooting for an even more commanding 3-0 series lead.
Lee exploded in the final period, where he scored 13 of his 17 points, to spearhead Rain or Shine’s attack in the winning stretch of the game.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao described the last-second heroics that lifted them to the vital victory.
“When Rob Dozier made the tying shot at 103-all, I thought it was going to overtime, but we set-up a play in the end game. We didn’t think it would happen that way but we’ll take it,” said a jubilant Guiao.
It was Dozier who completed Alaska’s end-game run after his hook shot with 27.3 seconds left allowed the Aces to tie it at 103-all, giving them a chance after falling behind, 91-98, with under four minutes left.
However, Lee and the Painters delivered in the final play to put the Aces into a huge 0-2 hole that they now need to climb out of.
Jeff Chan likewise had 17 points, while Belga, Jewel Ponferrada and Jericho Cruz were also terrific for Rain or Shine, adding 14 points each,
RJ Jazul led all scorers with 24 points and his two three-pointers prior to Dozier’s game-tying basket were huge for Alaska’s last-ditch effort.
RAIN OR SHINE 105 – Chan 17, Lee 17, Belga 14, Cruz 14, Ponferada 14, Henderson-Niles 8, Ahanmisi 6, Quinahan 6, Almazan 3, Ibanes 2, Norwood 2, Tiu 2, Teng.
ALASKA 103 – Jazul 24, Dozier 18, Abueva 14, Thoss 14, Baguio 11, Banchero 9, Hontiveros 8, Exciminiano 5, Baclao 0, Eman 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarters: 21-26, 49-51, 76-79, 105-103
(Finals, Game 3 – Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Alaska vs. Rain or Shine
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