Alaska needed to watch film to figure out how to plug holes in their roster, San Miguel Beer knows already what it needs to do to flip its current course.
The two traditional heavyweights, whose combined PBA trophy count is a sight to behold, are hoping the solutions to their Philippine Cup woes will come in time on Wednesday, when they face separate foes at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Aces take on the Columbian Dyip at 4:30 p.m., after which the Beermen take the court against the Blackwater Elite.
San Miguel Beer is currently tiptoeing on a 2-3 (win-loss) record. While it isn’t quite stuck in quicksand just yet, the team hasn’t shown the kind of domination expected of a reigning four-time champion.
Marcio Lassiter, however, doesn’t seem perturbed, saying all it takes is a little effort for the Beermen to turn things around.
“Defense,” Lassiter said after the tailend of back-to-back losses last week, a 108-98 defeat to Rain Or Shine. “That’s No. 1. [And] we can’t seem to rebound. I’d say those two were the biggest things.”
“If we can’t rebound, then we can’t play our up-tempo [style],” Lassiter added. “We can’t go out and play our game … not getting the defensive rebound.”
Alaska has lost just once so far—its opening game—but is faced with manpower woes. The Painters welcomed the Aces to the Philippine Cup with an 85-72 whipping that exposed the holes in Alaska’s roster.
The Aces showed up minus forwards Vic Manuel and Kevin Racal and guards JVee Casio and Simon Enciso, all due to various injuries.
“It was hard but it’s no excuse,” said Chris Banchero Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena. “The game showed our weaknesses so we got a lot of film to watch. When you get beat like that you know that you got a lot of things to work on.”
In a way, the Aces and the Beermen can’t pick a better schedule to deal with their current form. The combined record of their opponents is 3-6. But this is no longer a conference where teams can take opponents likely, and San Miguel knows that well after losing to Columbian in its first assignment.
Besides, every team that plays the Beermen seems to play a notch better than usual.
“I know we have a big target but at the same time, we just got to keep working harder,” Lassiter said.
And Blackwater may have added motivation against the Beermen as they take on former guard Paul Zamar, who now plays a relief role for San Miguel Beer after an offseason trade.
Blackwater also owns a recent upset of San Miguel Beer in last season’s Governors’ Cup, but three key players from that Elite squad are already gone: Zamar, fiery guard John Pinto and star big man JP Erram.
For Alaska, there’s extra motivation to snare that win against Columbian: It may quell persistent rumors about Alex Compton’s head coaching tenure with the Aces.
“Last time I checked I was still coaching the game,” said Compton when asked on Sunday to address his job situation.
Compton gave little credence to the rumors, saying he’d be the first person to know if he were in trouble because Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu would talk to him directly.
“That’s Fred, he’s awesome to work for,” said Compton. “He will sit me down and tell me when it’s time and, when it is and if it happens, then great.”
“I was gone for two weeks and we had a tune-up game and I wasn’t there and no coaches just leave in the preseason,” said Compton.
“So it’s natural that a rumor would start.”
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