With a loss to NorthPort on Wednesday putting their PBA Philippine Cup playoff hopes in more peril, Alaska now finds itself rooting for some of its rivals to have a shot at cracking the quarterfinals.
The Aces finished the elimination round at 4-7 in the standings, which means they’ll have to rely on NLEX and NorthPort—both sporting identical 4-6 cards—to drop their final assignments against Magnolia and Ginebra, respectively.
If one of the two loses, the Road Warriors or the Batang Pier will have to have to engage Alaska in a do-or-die matchup for the eighth and final slot, which is the only way the Aces can make the playoffs at this point.
“I tried to avoid these scenarios coming into this game and just think about this game because preparing for scenarios in case of a loss doesn’t help you focus in this game,” Alaska coach Alex Compton laughed. “I guess I’ll have to put on my Magnolia and Ginebra jerseys and hope that we get a chance.”
It didn’t have to be this way for Alaska only if they’d taken care of business against NorthPort, which only won its first game in two months three days ago. Unfortunately, they fell behind by as much as 13 in the third quarter after seeing the Batang Pier take advantage of their slow transition defense in the third quarter.
Alaska managed to keep it close early in the payoff period by coming up with a 14-0 start, but Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle proved to be too much for them to handle in the end.
Another factor that might have doomed them was their ineffectiveness from the line, where they shot just 36.8 percent (7-for-19) for the night.
“They pulled away. It’s tough to say from Alaska’s side because we did some good things, we didn’t do well enough to win the game,” Compton lamented. “We were limiting them defensively, they were in the low 20s halfway through the second quarter. We had to battle tooth and nail for every possession.”
But 7-for-19 in the free throw line doesn’t help. We did some good things but not good enough.”
Things certainly look bleak for the Aces, but Compton said they’re not about to fold just yet. There’s still that very tiny hope of setting up a showdown with Calvin Abueva and the Phoenix Fuel Masters, anyway, so there’s still reason to put in the work.
For now, though, they’ll just have to hope that things fall their way.
“I told the guys in the locker room afterwards that if we got a sliver of a thread of a hair of hope, we’re fighting. I know there’s the All-Star weekend and some guys will be gone, but we’re gonna be practicing and getting ready as we cheer for teams that we usually don’t cheer for,” Compton explained.
“It’s hard to cheer for another team in the PBA, you wanna beat them all. But right now I guess we’re huge Magnolia and Ginebra fans. We’ll be watching for those games.”