Tuesday, October 9, 2012

PBA Philippine Cup 2013: Alaska Aces Preview

Maybe the most improved team in the PBA 2012-13 season in terms of youth, experience, and depth of the roster. The Alaska Aces roster really captured my interest this year. Man they got LENGTH! The dawn of the new era of “Gatas Republic.”

For years, Alaska has been regarded as a family-friendly and a very wholesome team. Just pure basketball, no elbows being thrown, technicals called, and trash talking in the court. But that will all change this year as they acquired their second overall pick from SSC Calvin “The Beast” Abueva.

In my past post about winners and losers of the Tenorio trade, I talked about how Alaska got the trade right by acquiring youth and experience with last year’s top pick Jvee Casio and proven veteran guard “Cebuano Hotshot” Dondon Hontiveros. And with Cyrus Baguio, Mac Baracael (G/F) and Brandon Cablay, Alaska is quite tough in the backcourt for speed, athleticism and outside shooting.

But they’re not done yet. Alaska also has the lengthiest front court. Sonny Thoss will have his usual starting minutes at the Center spot and will be backed up by a decent post defender Samigue Eman. The PF position is stacked with reliable veterans such as Nic Belasco, Tony dela Cruz, both can play the post both offensively and defensively and shoot outside and behind the arc.

Now the questions for Alaska are:

Should they tame or unleash the beast?

 We all know what San Sebastian basketball is all about – physical. He can easily get 20-10 in NCAA any game he wants to. He can drive strong to the basket and finish. He loves the open court basketball. However, Abueva, sometimes, is too physical that he’s in the borderline of playing pesky and being dirty. Hailed as the beast, he has his own shares of technical fouls and flagrant fouls with that style.

Abueva is a terrific talent, but will coach Luigi Trillio run his triangle with him? Or will he let Casio run the offense and make Abueva as an option.

How will the new Triangle Offense work?

Coach Tim Cone’s triangle is a tested and proven system, and it was badly missed by Alaska for the past seasons. Now, Coach Luigi Trillio takes over and introduces his own kind of triangle. Alaska will have a whole season to familiarize it, and with Casio and Hontiveros on board, along with big men that can play outside, they have all the good pieces to surround Sonny Thoss.

Clearly, this team is a dark horse this season. Their fate depends on how their system works for them. If Casio can play their system right, then they have a good chance in the top 4. But it will surely take a while for this team to fully embrace its new system. Plus, Abueva is still stuck in NCAA. They may struggle at first, but they’ll surely be an exciting team to watch this season.

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