ALASKA coach Jeff Cariaso likened Ola Ashaolu to former import Sean Chambers in terms of professionalism and work ethic.
Cariaso paid tribute to the former Alaska import following the team’s decision to replace Ashaolu at the last minute with Mark Saint Fort heading to the PBA Governors Cup playoffs.
The Aces made the decision as injuries slowed down Ashaolu in the final stretch of the eliminations, forced to play with a hurting shoulder, injured calf, and hamstring.
“In regards to work ethic and attitude, he reminds me of Sean Chambers,” said Cariaso of the 33-year-old Ashaolu. "A guy that comes in and gets along with everyone, works hard and is very demanding of himself and teammates, but is a really good guy off the court."
“So it was really hard to replace him,” he added.
The injured import averaged 18.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 11 games with the Aces. But a decision had to be made if the 35-year-old franchise is to extend its farewell conference in the league.
“I think in this regard, you have to weigh out the fact that his chronic injuries prevented him from being the old Olu that we know,” said Cariaso.
The Aces did live for another day as Saint Fort scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds despite playing with jetlag in a 93-79 win over the NLEX Road Warriors in their first quarterfinals meeting on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A do-or-die encounter for a berth in the semis is set on Saturday.
Cariaso knows Ashaolu is rooting for the Aces to advance deeper into the playoffs opposite the team he previously played for.
“He’s still here and he’s watching at home. So hi Olu,” said Cariaso as he made a shout out to the import. “He’s our biggest supporter.”
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