AS the last team to return to practice in the PBA after taking a long break, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo understands the challenges the Aces are facing in the season-ending Governors Cup.
While the team will not be playing until one week from now, Trillo said the Aces are doubling their efforts to ensure they get back into game shape once they play Talk ‘N Text on August 21.
“Still a lot to be desired for our team. We lost three and we won twice in our preseason games,” Trillo told Spin.ph. “We’re not where we want to be because we’re not yet in game shape. Credit the other teams for working out early.”
Trillo, however, explained their return to practice in the final week of July was due in part to the team’s good performances during the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup, where the Aces went on to win the title - the franchise’s first in the post-Tim Cone era.
“We’re obviously taking some time off basketball because we’ve played well in the past conferences. It wouldn’t make sense to push these guys especially since we want some of them to take time to heal from their injuries,” added Trillo, whose team compiled an 18-4 record in the mid-season conference.
The Aces returned to Manila from their US trip as part of their bonus from team owner Fred Uytengsu following their 3-0 Finals sweep of Baraangay Ginebra in the import-laden tournament.
Sonny Thoss along with forwards Gabby Espinas and rookie Calvin Abueva left last July for China to undergo treatment for their respective injuries while starting guard JV Casio also took a long rest after missing several games last conference due to a bum knee.
But as the final stretch of the season rolls along, Trillo remains confident the Aces can regain their sharp form and again be on top of the heap with explosive import Wendell McKines in tow.
The 24-year-old McKines showed some of his explosiveness on Tuesday after scoring 26 points, including three rim-rattling dunks in the final period to lead the Aces to a 98-95 preseason game win over the Kings.
“We’re fine with Wendell, though I think he’s still not in game shape. But the effort is there, the heart is there to play. But I feel good. I know we just need to work on a few more stuff,” said Trillo.
The wide-bodied McKines played college basketball for New Mexico State. He recently played for Rouen in the French League where he averaged 17.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 assist in 34 games.