JEFF Cariaso is again shooting for a PBA championship with Alaska, not as player but as coach.
Less than a year removed as head coach of Barangay Ginebra, Cariaso is out to redeem lost glory after the Aces made it to the finals of the PBA Governors Cup.
Cariaso serves a one of Alex Compton’s deputies at Alaska, which he has long considered 'home,' the franchise being the same team where his 15-year pro career all began.
“Of course that’s the goal (winning a championship). I want to help this team as much as I can. I’m happy to be back with Alaska, it’s home, e,” said the 42-year-old Fil-Am.
“Regardless of whether we’re in the finals or not, it’s home. I think I did a good career decision to come back here.”
His return to the team that made him the sixth overall pick in the 1995 draft and where he won six titles – by his own count – including a Grand Slam in 1996 followed a brief two-conference stint as Ginebra coach, which saw him compile a 12-11 (win-loss) record spanning last season’s Governors Cup to this year’s Philippine Cup.
The mild-mannered former player said there wasn’t much of an adjustment from being a head coach with the Kings to joining a battery of assistant coaches at Alaska.
“You go from talking all practice to not talking so much,” he said with a big laugh.
Ironically, it was the Aces who slammed the door on the Kings’ semifinal bid when they beat the league’s most popular ballclub in their quarterfinal playoffs.
Cariaso, who retired after the 2010 season, said he doesn’t take the victory as something personal.
“Ganun naman e, eventually you ended seeing them up (former team). No hard feelings,” he stressed. “It’s just one of those things where you just go out and play. You have to be professional kapag ganito.”
And further proof of how professional he is, Cariaso is giving credit where credit is due, pointing out how Compton and the rest of Alaska’s coaching staff had molded the Aces to the fearsome, pressure-defense team it has become known for prior to him coming on board.
“This team is already good before me coming over here. The program and what coach Alex had really brought to the table, just about everything, on and off the court, togetherness, the chemistry, it’s really paying off, “ said Cariaso.
“It’s their time right now.”