ALASKA coach Alex Compton is not about to push that panic button, but he should be seriously thinking about it.
It's not because the Aces have dropped back-to-back games, but of more grave concern is the way they played in those losses.
"We had nine assists, we're bad on defense. Couldn't have much more to say than that," said Compton following a 71-90 loss to NLEX last Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup.
"You got selfish when you have nine assists and you don't move around on defense," added a clearly flustered Compton.
"I would have liked to put our best out there. But we didn't deserve any inch of that thing."
Compton should get through to his players' collective heads - and as soon as possible.
Streaking TNT is standing tall in the way of Alaska's bid to recover lost ground when they tangle Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
In direct contrast to the Aces, the KaTropa come into the game well-rested and on a high from a three-game winning roll capped by a 127-89 demolition of the Blackwater Elite last Saturday.
TNT is not about to let up, especially since it remains on track for a possible top two finish at the end of the 11-game eliminations and a twice-to-beat advantage in the ensuing eight-team quarterfinals.
"Our mentality is a must-win every game," said coach Bong Ravena as his KaTropa bid to catch idle San Miguel Beer at third-running spot.
"We have to be locked in on defense and avoid turnovers."
That heightened sense of urgency seems to be the thing that Alaska is lacking in after it utterly failed to rebound from an 86-103 drubbing from Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok the Sunday before and thus slid to seventh.
Part of the reason may be the continued absence of Vic Manuel, Jayvee Casio and Kevin Racal. Even Chris Banchero was feeling under the weather last Wednesday.
But that should not be pointed to by his remaining players, insisted Compton. "It's been a challenging conference," he admitted.
"There's never an excuse for getting outworked. We don't have an excuse for getting 'nearly' outworked." And that was this game." (NC)