Aug 11, 2015 Uncategorized Comments Off on Compton overwhelmed by Gilas spirit (Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – Alaska coach Alex Compton said the other day he’s overwhelmed by the Gilas spirit in his new role as one of Tab Baldwin’s assistants with the national team preparing for the FIBA Asia Championships in Changsha on Sept. 23-Oct. 3.
Compton, 41, said he’s the last assistant in the totem pole and blessed to participate in the journey. “When coach Tab asked me to join his staff, I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “Of course, I was honored. But I told myself maybe, my best contribution is to stay out of the way of the other coaches. I mean, we’ve got coach Jong (Uichico) and coach Norman (Black) who are championship coaches. Then, we’ve got coach Josh (Reyes) and coach Nash (Racela) who know the international game so well with their Gilas experience. We’ve also got Jimmy (Alapag). Seriously, I’m learning something new every day. It’s an incredible atmosphere and a wonderful experience.”
Compton, who was born here, is an American but a Filipino at heart. He has lived in Manila for nearly 20 years, is married to a Filipina and speaks Pilipino fluently. Compton, a graduate of Cornell University, played on two MBA title squads and was the league’s MVP in 1999. He also saw action on the Montana Pawnshop squad that took the PBL crown in 2005. Because he has no Filipino lineage, Compton played in the PBA only as an import in two conferences for Welcoat. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Welcoat in 2006-07, moved to Powerade then to Alaska.
Two games into the 2014 Governors Cup, Compton was appointed Alaska head coach and has since piloted the Aces to two Finals in four conferences.
“After coach Tab invited me to join his staff, I asked our team owner Mr. (Fred) Uytengsu for his approval and he gave it willingly,” said Compton. “It took no convincing. Mr. Uytengsu is giving his all-out support for Gilas. Three of our players are in the pool, Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva and Dondon Hontiveros.”
Compton said Thoss’ return to the national team gives Baldwin flexibility in forming combinations. “Sonny’s a five for us at Alaska,” he said. “What we don’t sometimes realize is Sonny’s a good perimeter shooter for a five. With Andray (Blatche), coach Tab has the option of going big or small since we’ve also got Asi (Taulava) and Ranidel (de Ocampo). We’ll have versatility.”
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With the three Aces in the fold, Compton assured that they’ll bring out their best game in, game out. “Sonny and Dondon have national team experience,” he said. “They bring it everyday. Calvin is really excited to play for Gilas. He only had two days off from last season because there was the FIBA 3×3 World Tour leg to prepare for and play in then now, it’s training for Gilas. In the 3×3, Calvin showed what he can do against foreign opposition and did very well.”
As for Blatche, Compton said he’s a tested player who can carry Gilas on his back. “We saw what he did at the World Cup,” he said. “We’re happy to have him back. He hasn’t played a game since February so he’s catching up on his conditioning. But he’s not complaining. He does all the work like the rest of the guys. I’m just getting to know him, I’d never met him before. He’s a good guy to be with and his teammates like him. He gets along with everybody.”
Compton said the pool composition is something he has no control of. “I honestly don’t know how decisions are made,” he said. “My job is to work with the staff and I’m just happy to do my share. I’ll work hard like everybody does. If a player isn’t able to join because of personal issues or injuries, you’ve got to respect that. We’re hoping to get the best players available and work with what we have. Right now, coach Tab is calling twice a day practices so guys are getting pushed to the limit.”
Compton said being a part of the national team is an experience of a lifetime. “I remember I played with the MBA All-Stars at the 2002 Jones Cup in Taiwan and when I stepped on the court wearing my jersey with Philippines on it, I was so proud,” he said. “It’s a different feeling when you’re playing for your country. It’s the same feeling I have now with the Gilas coaching staff.”
Compton played in only three games at the 2002 Jones Cup and sat out the last four with an ankle injury. The Philippines finished fifth of eight with a 3-4 record. Coach Francis Rodriguez’ lineup included Compton, Billy Mamaril, Romel Adducul, P. J. Simon, Reynel Hugnatan, Bruce Dacia, Egay Echavez, Jeffrey Flowers, Kalani Ferreira and Eddie Laure. “Although I played only a few games, I felt the pride of playing for your country,” he said. “It’s the highlight of competing in sports.”