The Alaska Aces were dominating the field in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup. The Fred Uytengsu-owned franchise led the San Miguel Beermen, 3-0, in the best- of-seven title playoff to move to within a victory of adding another jewel in its rich collection.
Then it all changed. The Beermen took the remaining four games of the series to clinch the coveted gold medal instead.
The Aces didn’t lose heart though. Their pride and dignity still intact. They were not choker nor losers, coach Alex Compton must have emphasized to them. They were champions who simply lost the championship.
They came back in the Commissioner’s Cup sharply focused to, again, make it to the finals. They lost this, too, this time to Rain or Shine and ended the second conference with a 14-11 win-loss slate.
Circumstances beyond their grasp, like injuries to key players, hampered the 1979 Grand Slam campaign in the last tournament of that same season, the Governor’s Cup, where they wound sixth of the 12-team cast with an even 6-6 card.
The following year when the country’s first play-for-pay league celebrated its 42nd Season, Alaska continued groping to recover lost touch finishing fifth in the Philippine Cup (7-6), ninth in the Commissioner’s Cup (4-8) and ninth in the Governor’s Cup (3-8).
Last Sunday, the Aces scored what could be their worthiest win since that forgettable 2016 Philippine Cup finale, a 97-83 drubbing of top favorite Ginebra San Miguel in hg Compton believe the right track to get back to where they belong.
“Greg (Slaughter) didn’t pay for Ginebra that night, but who cares, a victory over the no. 1 seed is a victory,” Compton exclaimed a day after catching he big fish. “It’s no longer our problem.”
“Vic (Manuel) is back and healthy and so is Sonny (Thoss), Our problem now is how to keep them healthy, So are Jayvee (Casio) and Calvin (Abueva),” Compton said in reference to the Alaska old reliable, who, he thought, have started playing beautiful music with new faces Jeron Teng, Bryan Cruz and Davon Potts.
Have his boys completely slain the ghost choker image heaped on them starting two seasons ago?” Yes, maybe, Maybe no yet, but we’re going to that direction,” Compton, who has considered the Philippines his country since coming this shore 20 years ago, assessed.
Compton said he told his boys before the game they probably didn’t think they would win. “I told them a lot of you don’t think you can beat the Kings. I want all of you to close your eyes and think otherwise. They did. Well, as we often say, the rest is … you know what.”
“You know, Sir, I always believe that all of us have a least one great voice deep inside. People are products of their environments. A lucky few are born into situations in which positive message abound,” he narrated.
“Others grew up hearing messages of fear and failure, which they must block out so the positive can be heard. The positive voice will emerge, somewhere, sometime, for all of us. Listen and your breakthrough will come,” Compton said rather philosophically.