By Jonas Terrado
Alex Compton sure has a good memory.
The Aces coach felt as if lightning had stuck twice Friday night after Paul Lee’s baseline shot put the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok a 3-2 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals with a 79-78 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lee’s jumper with 1.3 seconds, which came after beating a diving Kevin Racal for the ball, reminded Compton a painful moment in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup title series when Alaska fell in six games to Rain or Shine.
Game 2 of that series saw Lee recovering Beau Belga’s corner three before taking a fadeaway shot off RJ Jazul at the buzzer, giving Rain or Shine a 105-103 victory also at the Big Dome.
“Paul hit a buzzer-beater from almost the exact same spot,” Compton recalled. “I may have to put something slippery on the floor there for the endgame with Paul. He has that spot against us.”
It appeared that a sequel was far from reality after Alaska’s Mike Harris appeared to have won it on a block on Romeo Travis underneath the basket.
The ball bounced on the right side on the floor with a diving Kevin Racal and Lee chasing for the ball.
But Lee won the scramble, then went for the shot off Ping Exciminiano that left the Aces to think of the what-ifs.
One of the what-ifs was an earlier Lee-Racal moment when the Alaska forward missed a layup that would have put the Aces a 78-74 lead that may have gave them safe passage toward victory.
The miss led to Lee racing down the court to find Ian Sangalang for a three-point play and a 77-76 Magnolia lead.
“I think that kinda changes everything,” said Compton.
Though the Aces went ahead on two Harris freethrows and the his subsequent block on Romeo Travis, they were one stop short of escaping Araneta with the victory.
“K-Racs (Racal) dove and that one was an inch out of his grasp,” he lamented. “You know, what happens when KRacs dives to get the ball, his arm grew two inches and he bats it down court? Then I’m your first interview, not (Magnolia coach) Chito (Victolero). It’s just kinda what happens.”