Compton bracing for early season struggles as lack of build-up, injuries ravage weary Alaska

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After a grueling 14-month season, it was only right for Alaska to put basketball on hold for a while.

“We had to get away from each other. We’ve been together for 14 months straight,” head coach Alex Compton told FOX PH during the PBA’s first-ever Media Day held at Solaire Resort and Casino yesterday.

“I actually told our guys ‘Do not touch the ball.’ That was my order. ‘Don’t get on the court. Don’t work on your game. Spend time with your family, clear your head, don’t think about anything because we have another 14-month season coming up.’”

The 2017-18 season was a successful yet an unforgiving one for the Aces, who progressed—and floundered—slowly through the playoffs in every conference. Their Governors’ Cup run, where they went toe-to-toe with Magnolia before losing in six games in the finals, admittedly took its toll on Compton’s wards, prompting a team-wide decision to stop all basketball activities in order to recover over the break.

“The best offseason preparation you can do sometimes is just recovery. We were just burnt out—everybody. From the coaches, the staff, the players. We were tired. Injured and tired. But that is no complaint,” he said.

Any other team might have taken the exhaustion a bit better than how Alaska took it, but the Aces’ style of play—a physical press that fueled their top-shelf defense—demanded so much from them that Compton likened their effort to “redlining your car 24 hours straight.”

“We press in every possession. It means we had to practice that way. Which means I had to drive them a certain way. So I had to drive them for 14 months. Your nerves can only handle so much, physiologically. We need to shut them down and let them recover for a little while,” he explained.

That shutdown, unfortunately, still wasn’t able to spare his key players of injuries.

The 44-year-old coach bared that star Vic Manuel might have to miss a large portion of the Philippine Cup due to a back injury, while guard Simon Enciso will have to six out for six weeks after undergoing a knee procedure. Chris Banchero, JVee Casio and Sonny Thoss are also nursing injuries, too.

Considering all these factors, it seems Compton is already submitting to the reality that this isn’t their conference just yet.

“We might have to take a step back to take two steps forward. I’m okay with that,” he admitted.

But that’s not to say that they won’t bother trying to salvage their All-Filipino campaign with the remaining pieces—all of which are competent in their own right.

“Definitely, absolutely, without question these will pose problems. But that’s not a complaint, that’s a fact. Our job is to solve problems,” he explained.

“Say for example, faith. Faith doesn’t actually avoid problems. It takes problems head-on. It looks straight in the eye and says ‘This is an issue. We’re gonna have to find a way to overcome it.’ That’s kinda where we’re at. San Miguel’s an issue. Ginebra’s an issue. Magnolia’s an issue. The rest of the teams in the league are an issue. Our lack of offseason preparation is an issue. We have to find a way to overcome it. And that’s alright, because it’s my job,” he mused.

(Photo from PBA Images)

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