Coach Alex Compton paid tribute to his players' resolve to overcome various adversities.
"Where in the coaches' manual does it say when all of things go array, we're doing such good things and adversities hit, what do we do? And when those happened, that made me so proud of our guys.
That kind of character paid off for the Alaska Aces, who ended a two-year semi-final drought by making short work of the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in their PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinal duel.
The Aces finished second at the end of the single round elimination phase and advanced to the quarterfinals with a twice-to-beat advantage. They capitalized on that incentive, putting away the Hotshots, 89-78, Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to become the first reach the Final Four. It was Alaska's trip to the semi-finals since the 2016 Commissioner's Cup.
Their journey to get to the Final Four wasn't easy as it looked. The Aces battled the odds without star forward Calvin Abueva, who is serving an indefinite suspension, and Jeron Teng, who figured in a stabbing incident in early-June and had to be sideline for nearly a month. Late in the eliminations, import Antonio Campbell left the team to pursue his NBA dream.
"I'm so proud of my team," Compton said.
"I didn't see anything in any of our players other than fight other than desire. And there's no excuse-making, no finger-pointing, no looking for alibis. I have no idea what will happen in the semis, but I'm proud of my guys."
Up next for Alaska is the winner of the quarterfinal duel between Miguel and TnT KaTropa. The Beermen lead the best-of-three series,1-0, after Monday's 121-110 victory.
The best-of-five semi-final series will start this weekend.
"I don't want to play either of those teams. But we're gonna have to, and we'll do our best," said Compton, who is making his sixth semi-final appearance since taking over from Luigi Trillo in 2014.(JT)