ALASKA may have failed to contend for a championship in the last PBA Philippine Cup, but coach Luigi Trillo insisted Aces Calvin Abueva and Sonny Thoss "deserved their spots" in the All-Star team that will face Gilas Pilipinas in the mid-season showpiece on April 6.
Abueva and Thoss were voted to be among the reserves of the PBA All-Star team after a vote among coaches, joining San Miguel Beer's Marcio Lassiter, reigning league MVP Arwind Santos, San Mig Super Coffee's Joe Devance and Peter June Simon, and Talk 'N Text's Nino Canaleta.
They Said It!
“(Abueva) a ‘10-10’ (referring to 10 points and 10 rebounds per game). He changed the way things were done... Sonny Thoss is Alaska’s Tim Duncan. He has been our pillar in the team." Alaska Aces coach Luigi Trillo
They will join James Yap and Mark Barroca of San Mig, and the Ginebra trio of Greg Slaughter, Chris Ellis, and Mac Baracael, who were all voted by fans to be the starters for the PBA selection.
Abueva and Thoss were the surprise selections among the coaches but Trillo insisted the two got the nod for playing key roles in the success of the franchise.
“Those guys (Abueva and Thoss) deserve as much (to be in the All-Star lineup),” Trillo told Spin.ph on Wednesday.
The Alaska coach added the team's No. 8 position at the end of the All-Filipino elims is deceiving. Besides, the finish doesn’t necessarily disqualify the two from being part of the PBA selection, he added.
“If you look at it (Philippine Cup standings), we were like tied for sixth to ninth (place), though technically, we had to play the knockout (game) against Meralco for the No. 8 spot,” recalled the Alaska coach.
“We were also a win away from making it to the semifinals, so to me, looking at the last conference, there were a couple of games that could have gone either way.”
Abueva was Rookie of the Year awardee last season. Although his numbers have dipped in the season-opening conference, the Alaska coach preferred to look at the overall value the sophomore forward to the team.
“He’s (Abueva) a ‘10-10’ (referring to 10 points and 10 rebounds per game). He changed the way things were done, but we’ve had success with him,” Trillo said.
Despite Alaska’s struggle in the All-Filipino, the former San Sebastian star still submitted decent numbers of 10.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 20.8 minutes of playing time per contest - a dip from his 12.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in more than 26 minutes of action from last season.
On the other hand, Trillo describes Thoss as Alaska’s own version of the San Antonio Spurs’ durable center Tim Duncan.
“Sonny Thoss is Alaska’s Tim Duncan. He has been our pillar in the team,” he said.
Trillo said people should never underestimate the value of the 6-foot-7 Thoss, who is a solid post threat and Alaska’s No. 1 interior defender.
The former James Cook University standout actually played a pivotal role in Alaska’s Commissioner’s Cup title conquest last season, where he run away with the Finals MVP.