THE fun is over, now the hard part begins for the Alaska Aces.
With barely three weeks to go before the start of the season-ending PBA Governors Cup, coach Luigi Trillo and his well-rested crew will have to cram when the Aces resume practice on Thursday at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.
The Aces are fresh from a U.S. vacation that included a trip to Disneyland in Los Angeles as part of the team’s bonus for winning the Commissioner’s Cup title. The team is returning to Manila on Tuesday morning.
“It’s been a tiring trip, actually it’s a bit of both, enjoyment and tiring,” Trillo told Spin.ph. “We went to Universal Studios, Disneyland, shopping, then beach.
“If there’s anything that could be working against us, it’s the need to cram everything because we’ve got three-and-a-half weeks to get back in shape in time for the opening,” Trillo added.
The youthful Alaska mentor said one factor that can work in the Aces' favor is familiarity since the Aces never tinkered with their lineup during the conference break.
“The familiarity is there so that’s something we can work on. We wanted to keep the team intact. Plus, I appreciate that our guys got to rest because we were one of the few teams that played a long stretch,” explained Trillo, architect of Alaska’s first league title in the post-Tim Cone era.
The Aces compiled a league-best 18-4 (win-loss) record overall in the mid-season conference behind the heads-up play of Best Import Robert Dozier, who blended well with local stars Sonny Thoss, JV Casio, Cyrus Baguio, and super rookie Calvin Abueva.
For the Governors Cup, Alaska is tapping Wendell McKines, a product of New Mexico State star who Trillo described as an “energy guy who plays like Calvin Abueva.”
McKines, the US NCAA Western Athletic Conference (WAC) MVP and scoring and rebounding champion in the 2011-12 campaign, joined the team during its Disneyland tour to bond with his new teammates.
“Wendell joined us in Santa Monica for Disneyland. I think that’s important for us so he could know the guys well. He said he’s looking forward to joining us in practice,” he added.
McKines is arriving on Saturday and will immediately join the team practice on Sunday.