The Magnolia Hotshots seem to have taken their trademark defensive pressure to another level in the first two games of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals. Even Mike Harris, a former NBA player, has struggled to find ways to solve it.
A frontrunner for the Best Import award, the prolific import said he was forced to be a facilitator for most of the match. He was limited to single field goal in the fourth period after pouring in 18 points in the first 36 minutes.
Harris had nothing but praise for the Hotshots after Friday's 77-71 Game 2 loss.
"They challenge me a lot more on the court than most teams had done this year. They really forced me to move the ball and focus in passing," Harris said.
Alaska actually atoned for a lethargic start to Game 1 by coming out firing, only to run out of steam down the stretch.
Alaska came out with its typically balanced attack to take control before the Hotshots turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter.
Alaska committed turnover after turnover while Jio Jalalon responded with clutch baskets.
Alaska coach Alex Compton couldn't hide his frustration during the post-game interview.
"But if we turn the ball over 26 times, that's just huge. Credit to Magnolia. ... But I think if we could have taken care of the basketball, it would have been a better game," Compton said.
The Aces, Harris in particular, remain confident they still have time to find the solution to Magnolia's defense.
"All we need to do is win one. It changes the whole thing," Harris said. We can't get down on ourselves. I'm not down on myself. I've been in this before so I like the situation."
The best-of-seven series resumes with Game 3 on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.