ALL the gains the Alaska Aces had made after weeks of splendid play in the preseason disappeared one game into their season on Friday night.
Every shot San Mig Coffee made in an 83-103 blowout victory chipped away at the confidence Alaska had patiently built during the offseason, and the game ended with the new-look Aces looking no different from the team that finished last season with one of the league's worst records.
“I think we got demoralized in the game, they (Mixers) made 70 percent of their shots,” Trillo told Spin.ph later. “We have to give credit to San Mig Coffee because they executed really well.”
Actually, the Mixers made 69.6 percent (39-of-56) from the floor, but the difference didn't matter. Alaska had no business winning a game when it made just 20 of 62 (32.3 percent) of their shots and rotated so poorly on defense it gave the enemy all the open shots it wanted.
Typifying the Aces struggle was JVee Casio, the former top pick overall who the Aces hope would be the new face of the Uytengsu franchise after the trade that sent former star LA Tenorio to Ginebra.
Casio, though, was a picture of frustration all night as he finished with just three points against the Mixers while going 1-for-9 from the field, including a pathetic 0-for-6 from beyond the three-point arc.
“Kailangan na naming kalimutan ang offseason," said Casio. "We tried bringing the same energy we had during the offseason, pero mas handa lang talaga ang San Mig.”
The Aces, though, will have to pick up the pieces quickly if they hope to keep sliding into the same rut they had in their first conference under Trillo last season.
Their big men, from Sonny Thoss to his back-ups, were thoroughly outplayed by San Mig slotman who made nine of 11 shots for a game-high 22 points. Scorers like Cyrus Baguio also kept firing blanks, leaving Trillo with all the more reasons to yearn for the arrival of prized rookie Calvin Abueva.
Casio, at least, insisted the team is the least bit dispirited. Neither are the Aces alarmed, he added.
“Di naman talaga down ang team. The veterans were talking to us na mga bago sa team. Positive pa rin naman kami even after the loss. We just have to forget the game and look forward. This is just one game and we know we can bounce back,” said Casio.