MANILA, Philippines—With the new PBA season still two weeks away, Alaska head coach Jeffrey Cariaso wants his team to continue learning.
The Aces had to learn a tough one during their 81-79 win over San Miguel in a tune-up game Friday at Upper Deck Sports Center.
Alaska held a 67-50 lead early in the fourth but the Beermen, who are seeking a sixth straight Philippine Cup, slowly nipped away at the deficit and got to within one, 79-78, with 20 seconds left after Chris Ross’ three.
Cariaso’s bunch did hold on to the win but he hopes his players learn to never relax against any team.
“I was telling them that I wish all our practice games were like this because this is where you learn the most,” said Cariaso. “This forces you to be more clear and execute especially in the defensive end.”
“On the players’ side, it’s them being able to get over the fact that they lost the lead and play on.”
San Miguel outscored the Aces 31-19 in the fourth with Moala Tautuaa and Alex Cabagnot carrying much of the offensive load scoring 15 of the Beermen’s points in the period.
The Beermen that faced the Aces in the friendly was also depleted to the bone with five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo recovering from a fractured right shin, swingman Marcio Lassiter nursing a fractured right nose, and point guard Terrence Romeo spraining his right ankle in the very match.
“It’s always fun but there’s still a lot of things we can improve on,” said Cariaso. “We can improve a lot defensively, we’re not happy with breakdowns. What’s nice is we still have two weeks to work on it.”
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