By Drei Christopher Villanueva
In Alex Compton’s three seasons as head coach, Alaska has made it to the Finals four times, two of which were during the Philippine Cup where the Aces lost both in a best-of-seven series against the San Miguel Beermen.
So when the Aces, ranked no.2 at the end of the elimination round, let slip a twice-to-beat and lost the quarterfinals series against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, Compton knew his squad wasn’t performing up to expectations.
“Mr. (Fred) Uytengsu has very high standard and we failed to meet that standard. Since I took over as coach of the team, this is the first time that we failed to make it to the Finals,” Compton said. “Like we’ve always said within the organization, good enough never is.”
In hopes of improving the roster, Alaska made gradual changes while awaiting the return of premier slotman Sonny Thoss, trading Rome dela Rosa for forward Jake Pascual midway through the elimination round to shore up its frontline. And when the Aces got the boot in the quarterfinal round, Alaska found itself at the trading table anew.
RJ Jazul, one of the three captains named by Compton prior to the start of the season, was shipped to Phoenix Petroleum in exchange for point guard Simon Enciso. Compton made it clear that the trade wasn’t initiated by Alaska, saying that it was Phoenix which came over to ask for the services of Jazul. Eventually, the Head Coach was persuaded by the other members of the coaching staff and team manager Dickie Bachmann to agree on the deal.
The American mentor sees Enciso a good fit in what they’re trying to do: “In terms of what we’re doing, like defending, hustling and knocking down some shots, I think he’s been practically doing these things.”
“But Alaska fans should understand that it would take some time for these new players, Jake and Simon to grasp what we’re trying to achieve. It really takes time.”