By TITO S. TALAO
The one that got away is what’s seared deepest in the mind of Dickie Bachmann, the Alaska Aces team manager, not so much at being on the wrong side of history in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals or the four other championship series they blew one after the other.
“Still remember three minutes to go, up by 11, 12 points, that’s Game 4 [of the all-Filipino conference against San Miguel Beer] and we’re up 3-0,” says Bachmann. “That still hurts.”
He is reminded of one major element in that game.
“Yes, and they didn’t have June Mar [Fajardo],” he concedes.
That’s probably what pains Bachmann most – not being able to put away the Beermen when their No. 1 player still had a limp [from a hyper-extended knee] when he accepted the Best Player of the Conference award before the game.
Behind Marcio Lassiter’s torrid touch and Gabby Espinas’ off-the-bench heroics, SMB rallied to win in overtime, 110-104, averting a sweep and setting the stage for the return of the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, who dominated the next three games and led the way for the historic ‘Beeracle.’
“I think the problem is, basically, when push comes to shove, the players end up to each on their own and not together,” Bachmann says, “and that’s what we’re working on right now.”
The Aces debuted against the NLEX Road Warriors last night, and days of team-building and camaraderie in Tagaytay would have been put to the test.
Also Alaska’s representative to the Board of Governors, Bachmann acknowledges that their 15th championship since 2013 [with coach Luigi Trillo] has been a little long in coming.
“ We had five tries to win one and we couldn’t do it,” he says. “We had basically a slow start last conference, but now everyone’s healthy, everyone’s back, so hopefully we could get back there again, in the finals. We’re ready to compete; we’re not satisfied because we haven’t won anything yet. But we’ll be there.”
Bachmann insists the Aces are more ‘disappointed than hurt’ about failing to finish off the Beermen in last season’s Philippine Cup championship.
“Kaya pa naman,” he says. “It’s a learning process, even for Alex [Compton, the head coach.] We’ re a young team and no one expected us to be in the finals five straight time. We didn’t have Vic Manuel against Rain or Shine and against San Miguel, you never know. But we’re prepared to compete so hopefully we’d get over the hump. Plus Alex needs one championship to get going.”
But San Miguel again could stand in the way.
“Redemption in the Philippine Cup?” Bachmann says. “Yes, that’s where we want to break through because that’s the most prestigious – all-Filipino, no imports.”