He said they are proud of their accomplishment and the way they fought to the end was a testimony to the team’s fighting heart.
“I love them (Aces). I know San Miguel won, but there’s not another group of guys I’d rather coach. They didn’t give in. I’m so proud of these guys… I wouldn’t say it’s a failure,” Compton said.
Alaska was minutes away from pulling the improbable as the Aces, in now what has been their trademark in the compelling series, rallied from 23 points down, took the lead late in the final quarter before eventually losing steam that allowed San Miguel Beer to escape with an 80-78 victory.
The game will likely go down in PBA lore as one of the greatest.
“I can’t really describe it,” said Compton, a first timer in the finals.
“It’s like this weird mixture of tremendous pride in the way that our guys fought back, and tremendous disappointment in not closing it out. The disappointment is more about the result than the effort.”
Calvin Abueva, the team’s heart and soul but a controversial figure with his physical brand of play, praised his team’s effort.
“Proud naman ako sa sarili ko at sa team namin na kahit anong mangyari, lumaban kami ng patas. Hanggang sa buzzer, andun pa rin kami,” he said.
San Miguel Beer dictated the tempo in the first half as Alaska again started poorly. Before they realized it, they were trailing 48-25.
But as in the past, Alaska began whittling SMB’s lead at the start of the third quarter. A 32-14 run cut the deficit to just three points, 59-62, entering the final frame. They finally erased the lead with 4:26 left on basket, as expected, by Abueva, who capped a 15-6 run to put the Aces on top by six, 74-68.
“We really fought back, we really fought back,” said Compton. The first half felt like it was Game 7 emotions. We played out of all of the emotional surroundings of Game 7 and we didn’t stick to our game.”
“And in the second half we obviously did the whole Alaska lets-get-crazy-and-comeback,” added Compton, who pointed to his team’s 10-of-25 (40%) shooting from the foul line as one reason for the loss.
Alaska won Game 1 with an overtime victory, 88-82, after a 27-5 start, then took Game 3, 70-78, after trailing by 21 points (61-40) late in the third quarter, before tying the seven-game title series at 3-3 despite another poor start (18-4) as it won Game 6, 87-76.
The title series’ final game was nearly a mirror of all Alaska’s three victories during which they rallied from double digit deficits.
But in the game that mattered most, Alaska fell just a teeny-weeny bit short of capping a storied conference in the franchise’s history.
A three-point shot by Arwind Santos put San Miguel Beer ahead, 79-78, with 43.7 seconds left in the game that proved to be the winning basket.
“You dig yourself that hole, you can only do it so many times,” said Compton.
“San Miguel deserves a lot of credit. It could have been ‘oh no here we go again, Alaska just taken a six point lead. They’re pressing us, we can’t get a good look’,” Compton said.
Speaking of Santos’s shot:“To have the legs to make that shot, that’s guts. That’s a huge shot. He played what, 47 minutes to make that shot, that’s guts. He deserves a lot of credit.”