MANILA, Philippines – Alaska head coach Alex Compton gave full credit to Magnolia even as he lamented his team's subpar play in their first game of the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday.
Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel each scored 20 points, but their efforts were not enough as the Hotshots roared past the Aces, 108-95. They had no answer for Magnolia guard Paul Lee, who scored 30 points on just 14 shots in the game.
"You got to give credit to Magnolia. Paul Lee… was just incredible," said Compton after the game. "He's a great player."
What frustrated Compton was that they were unable to give Magnolia a better challenge. The game got away from the Aces in the second quarter, when the Hotshots outscored them, 36-21. Alaska had to play catch up the entire second half, but simply could not get over the hump.
"What's crazy is, we were really good in practice for two weeks," said Compton.
"I wish we could've given Magnolia the game that I know we have in us, and played the way we've been playing the last few weeks," he added. "We were doing well, and then the lights came on."
Compton revealed that for the past few weeks, he has tried to get the Aces to slow down a bit, at least on offense. This is a problem that they have yet to solve, and it proved costly against the Hotshots.
"We didn't slow down. We sped up," he said, sighing. "We sped up in the wrong places, and we slowed down mentally in places where we needed to be quicker."
"On offense, we rush sometimes – we get too 'gigil.' I'm like, slow down, show you're a vet. Stop rushing," he added. "As a whole team, we were all so amped."
Compton believes that "gigil" played a major role in their loss, as it kept them from slowing down and relaxing.
"I think it was just that first game 'gigil' more than anything else. That's not to say that if we showed up and played great, we would win. Paul had 30 points in 24 minutes," he said. "But I would've liked to have given them a good game, and not come out and give them this."
Having gotten the first game out of the way, Compton is hopeful that the Aces will play in a more deliberate manner when they return to action on December 29 against TNT KaTropa.
"Our hearts are in the right places," he said. "But we need to be mentally sharper and relaxed. We're so amped up."
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