ALASKA coach Luigi Trillo said import Robert Dozier is just one piece of the puzzle and it will still be down to the locals to turn the Aces' season around after a forgettable exit in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Alaska coach said they can't rely on Dozier alone to improve a team that got knocked out at the quarterfinal stage in the all-Filipino tournament, adding he's more concerned with whipping the locals into top shape for their Commissioner's Cup title defense.
As it is, Trillo, conducting only his third day of practice after the break in between conferences, still has to whip the former Memphis Tiger back into game shape after being away from top competition for 10 months.
“Robert is still not in game shape since he hasn’t played for months, but he seems like he’s really excited to be here. I know he’ll be where we want him to be when the conference begins,” Trillo told Spin.ph after the team’s Friday afternoon practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
The 28-year-old Dozier averaged 20.1 points, 17. rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.5 assists in more than 42 minutes of play to help the Aces to sweep the Gin Kings, 3-0 in the Finals on the way to an 18-4 win-loss record overall in the Commissioner’s Cup last season.
However, Dozier' last game in the pro ranks was Game Three of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
Trillo said Alaska faces an even tougher competition in its title defense since the competition has gone up several notches with the arrival of big men like Ginebra's Greg Slaughter and the returning Asi Taulava of Air21 as well as the vastly improved play of June Mar Fajardo.
“We all know that all the teams are tougher now. I mean with Asi Taulava, June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter, these guys make the league a lot better, so for us, we have to find ways to improve and change a little bit,” added Trillo, who was named last season’s PBA Coach of the Year.
Trillo also reiterated that the team isn’t thinking of shaking its roster through trade, opting to concentrate on maximizing the talent it has right now.
Alaska is set to leave on February 21 to join a four-team pocket tournament in Cebu, along with Talk ‘N Text and Globalport, which will now be handled by newly-appointed coach Pido Jarencio, as well as a Cebu-based squad.
“The Cebu tournament is a good gauge on getting the guys to fit into their roles becuse our target is get to the (PBA) Finals every year. So we’re gonna give every guy from the bench a chance to play,” he said.