NOW that he’s got a taste of it, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo can agree that indeed Barako Bull’s veteran roster cannot be taken lightly.
The Aces were comfortably up by 15 points early in the final period before the Energy Cola went berserk from beyond the arc.
With Barako Bull’s shooter Ronjay Buenafe waxing hot from the outside, the Energy Cola gutted down the Aces’ once imposing lead on the way to pulling off a gigantic 97-93 upset win on Sunday.
“They (Energy Cola) are a very experienced team,” said Trillo after the game, which saw his team drop to 1-2, a week after the opening of the PBA’s 39th season.
It was a big win for a Barako Bull squad that was much criticized at the start of the season for throwing away the chance to infuse young blood into the lineup, trading its three first-round draft picks.
But Trillo, awarded recently by the PBA Press Corps as Coach of the Year, pointed out that Dennis Miranda, Mark Isip and Jonas Villanueva are still at the top of their game, while big men Dorian Pena and Mick Pennisi can still give quality minutes and could pull off more big wins in the tournament.
Miranda failed to finish the game after hurting his left calf muscle early in the fourth period, but Isip stood his ground against Alaska’s bigger frontline.
The 6-foot-5 Isip, who played for Air21 and Petron late last season, collared a crucial rebound during the dying seconds that preserved Barako Bull’s second win in as many starts. He finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
Since the PLDT myDSL-Philippine Cup is still a long way to go, Trillo said they have a lot of time to fine tune their game and work on closing out games.
“The thing we need to work on is close-out games. Obviously, this (loss) is tough,” said Trillo.
“We have to be patient with these guys. There are certain things we did well. We played with so much intensity. Then come back and got the lead. We worked so hard and then in the fourth (quarter) we just gave it (the lead) away.”
Alaska returns to court on Thursday when it tangles with three-time Philippine Cup champion Talk ’N Text at the Mall of Asia Arena.