The Alaska Aces were three minutes away with an 11 point lead to ending the franchise’s 16-year PBA Philippine Cup title drought and celebrating it on the same floor – the PhilSports Arena – where the 2000 team won their last title.
Instead of popping the champagne inside the dugout at the expense of the San Miguel Beermen, the team will go back to practice at the Hoops Center the following day and go over what they did wrong in the last sequences that resulted into overtime and eventually a 102-110 loss to San Miguel.
Dondon Hontiveros, one of the leaders of the team, said that they simply quit playing their game in the end and failed to get the job done.
“Any time you have a sizeable lead and you stop playing defense, it’s really hard. We had so many breakdowns defensively and we have to correct it in practice,” said Hontiveros.
In the first three games of the series, the Alaska Aces made comeback after comeback to pull the rug from under their perennial finals nemesis San Miguel to come within a win of the elusive Philippine Cup title.
But when the Alaska Aces gained the sizeable lead entering the final minutes of the match, San Miguel Beer flipped the script and gave Alaska a taste of their own medicine.
For Hontiveros, a former San Miguel Beer gunner, this was one bitter pill to swallow but took it as added motivation for Game 5.
“Any loss is tough for us, but our character will be tested next game. I can see in my teammates’ eyes that we’ll be focused come tomorrow’s practice,” Hontiveros said.
Alaska Head Coach Alex Compton, on the other hand, commended his San Miguel counterpart Leo Austria but was dismayed with how they failed to sustain the fire late in the game.
“It wasn’t going to be easy, and San Miguel showed the character that I thought they had tonight. They fought hard, we were up double digits in the fourth, and I didn’t think our focus stayed during that time. We gave too many layups and easy shots,” said Compton.