Compton, Aces want fresh start
AFTER finally advancing to the playoffs after two fruitless conferences the Alaska Aces are cautiously hopeful as they head into the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
Alaska Aces head Alex Compton acknowledges the tough job ahead of him and the formidable teams they will face.
“It will be a challenge for us. We’re not one of the biggest teams. To win in this conference, I heard there’s a team called San Miguel who’s pretty good. What Chito (Victolero) has been doing in Magnolia, he’s doing a fantastic job and they’re big. Ginebra is obviously huge, and you got to get through to those teams. And then, Blackwater is a force to be reckoned with, JP Erram has been great. NLEX knocked us out, they’re great. TNT just got Terrence Romeo to pair with Jayson (Castro), and Meralco has always been good in the import-laden conferences. So you got to go through these teams,” said Compton.
The Aces will lean on their local crew to step up and once again lead the team to the playoffs.
Calvin Abueva has been deadly as ever, old reliables Sonny Thoss and JVee Casio remain solid in their respective positions, Vic Manuel has regained his confidence from a calf injury and has been a solid contributor for the squad, and rookie Jeron Teng has shown flashes which made him one of the league’s top neophytes.
The team will also have a talented new import in Antonio Campbell.
“He can play inside and outside and he did that in college. Last year, I loved Cory Jefferson. He’s such a good guy, a great shooter. I don’t think his back to the basket game had been what we were thinking what it was when he got here last year,” said Compton.
The Alaska mentor expects more from Campbell. He wants his new import to exploit his size and length to post up inside the paint on offense.
“We think that Tony can still have a good back to the basket game. We don’t want to play all pick-and-pop and take 50 threes and hope we shoot the lights out to beat them, but to have the options. Sometimes he can post, sometimes he can pop, sometimes he can go to the midrange and make passes. We’re hoping he can grow into that, read what they’re doing, and he has the skill set to do it,” said Compton.
He reiterated that what Campbell brings to the table is his ability to be a Swiss army knife, as he has shown potential to adjust to whatever schemes the team will enforce against the league’s favorites this coming conference. Campbell is 23 and the team sees the former Ohio Bobcat as someone who the team can develop and absorb their lessons like a sponge.
“It’s his first time playing overseas and it’s going to be a constant learning process. But it’s clear to us and to him that you just have to be versatile if you want to beat these great teams and that’s what we’re gonna be. We can’t look them in the eyes and just overpower them with sheer height and talent. We have to be creative,” Compton said.
Still, the expectations aren’t limited on just Campbell as Compton hopes to see a more disciplined Alaska team coming into the second conference.
“The biggest thing is to just be hungry. From there, if we can have really good practices and get them up to speed. We can help them make better decisions. That’s always the thing about these players’ lives, primarily in basketball and that’s just a life lesson. The decisions you make have great ramifications and implications in your life. The decisions you make with the ball have huge ramifications. The decision you make to gamble or not to gamble, to be solid or reach in and foul. All of those have immediate implications,” he said.