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Alaska Aces’ assistant Louie Alas sees parallels with Dubs’ finals loss
by rick olivares
After LeBron James hit one free throw to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a four-point lead with scant seconds left in Game 7 that turned out to be the marginal points in their historic title run, an eerie feeling of deja vu crept up Alaska Aces assistant coach Louie Alas’ spine who was watching the match at home.
“It was a familiar and painful feeling,” shared Alas. Golden State, despite their record breaking regular season run of 73-9, struggled in the play-offs. The Warriors went 8-2 through the first two rounds. In the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder played the Dubs a little more physical and went hard at them. The Warriors fell into a 3-1 hole but they fought their way back to win three straight and book a return bout with the Cavs who they defeated in last season’s finals, 4-2. It was an incredible accomplishment to come back from 3-1 down with the Warriors becoming the 10th team in NBA history to accomplish that feat.
Once in the Finals, they looked to even deal the Cavaliers a resounding loss as they had a healthy Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. But that fourth win never came.
The Western Conference Finals and the Finals resonated soundly with Alas in the worst way.
During the 2015-16 Philippine Cup Finals, Alaska raced to a 3-0 lead against the San Miguel Beermen. That fourth win never came. In the next conference finals, Rain or Shine spotted them a 3-0 series lead before the Aces won the next two. The third and fourth wins didn’t come and Alaska ended up a bridesmaid again, the fourth time in the last two seasons.
“I cannot speak for the entire team (Alaska),” said Alas. “I have somewhat moved on from the losses of the last two conferences — there are always new things to keep you busy. But every now and then, there are flashbacks. The NBA Finals brought back some of that pain. It is something that doesn’t go away until you win a championship.”
“Against Rain or Shine, we didn’t have Vic Manuel and JVee Casio and while we don’t like to make excuses, their output was missed because against a team like the Elasto Painters, you need firepower. We got by earlier without them but when it came to the finals, we missed them. It’s like Golden State missing Andrew Bogut and a healthy Andre Igoudala. Bogut isn’t a just anyone. He was a former number one over all draft pick (2005) and was the main man for the Milwaukee Bucks for so many years. In Golden State, he had to sacrifice his scoring because they had Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. So he played defense and is a rim protector. If you look at the games without him, Cleveland had more lay-ups.”
“The Cavaliers are a very good team, maybe even deeper than Golden State. But as a coach or even coaches, we look for certain things. Like the Dubs make six, seven passes before taking a shot. That’s a team game. Cleveland makes a pass or two but the ball almost always ends up with LeBron, sometimes Kyrie. If you look at Game 7, Golden State did not have their entire team playing well. Only Draymond Green. Klay had his moments. So did Curry. But Harrison Barnes didn’t play well. So did Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, and Igoudala was not 100%. When “the team” play did not emerge, it hurt them. While Cleveland went back to their two strengths — LeBron James who is still the best player in the world and Kyrie Irving.”
“The Alaska Aces have had successful seasons in the past two years but you can’t really say that because we didn’t win a championship. This is something we have to build upon and learn. Hopefully, we will. And then these flashbacks will go away."