COACH Luigi Trillo spoke like a general to a platoon of beaten soldiers.
The young Alaska mentor lifted the spirit of his Alaska Aces, telling them to hold their heads up even though they lost against reigning champion Talk `N Text for a berth in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The Aces came up short in the 83-78 Game 6 loss as they appeared to have lost their poise in the endgame by firing hurried shots from beyond the arc instead of being patient on offense, allowing the composed champions to march to their third straight All-Filipino Finals appearance.
“At this point, you can’t feel bad. You face Talk ‘N Text which has been playing for so long together. In this game, I think we held on valiantly. The nice thing is we have a good platform to start from,” said Trillo in his persuasive post-game talk inside the Alaska dugout.
Trillo was thankful for the all-out support he got from Alaska management during the offseason that allowed him to assemble a new coaching staff, while acquiring key players that played big for them in the season-opening conference.
“From ninth (place) last conference (Governors Cup), I was able to get the players I want. I see that we have a good foundation to start from so I told my players, there is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Talk ‘N Text, they are there, but with us, we still have some lapses, but I like what I have right now in the team,” added the 37-year-old former La Salle playmaker.
He also praised his players led by Sonny Thoss, JV Casio, Dondon Hontiveros, Cyrus Baguio, Gabby Espinas, and Calvin Abueva for refusing to simply give up in the midst of the 14-game elimination round when the Aces went on a five-game skid.
“When we’re in trouble in the elims, the nice thing is they regrouped. I admire them for not abandoning me or what we believe in. There was so much fight with this team. I look forward for this second and third conference because I feel we have a chance to grow more,” noted the Alaska mentor.
Come the second conference, Trillo hopes former Los Angeles Lakers backup center DJ Mbenga would accept their offer to play for the Aces.
The seven-foot Mbenga was part of the Lakers’ back-to-back championship unit during the 2009 and 2010 season.
“We already prepared an offer for DJ, we hope he could accept our offer because his asking price was too high,” said Trillo.
The 255-pound Mbenga began his NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2004-2005 season before joining the Golden State Warriors.
His last NBA stint was with the New Orleans Hornets in the 2010-2011 season, before playing for the Qingdao Doublestar last November in China.