NEWLY acquired Alaska playmaker JV Casio knows exactly the situation he is getting into.
Going into his sophomore season as a pro, the pint-sized playmaker knows he will have to live up to the expectations of one of the most successful clubs in PBA story while being measured against the likes of former Alaska guard LA Tenorio and, before that, all-time great Johnny Abarrientos.
"Malaking challenge ito on my part sa second year ko sa PBA, but they can expect me to give my best sa team,” Casio told Spin.ph, a day after he and LA Tenorio became the central figures in the multi-player trade that made the biggest news so far in the offseason.
“Alaska is a very solid organization at masaya ako kasi sa isang premiere PBA team ako napunta at makakapaglaro."
To his credit, the former La Salle guard has time and again proved critics wrong in his career. The role of chief quarterback for the original Smart Gilas team of Rajko Toroman initially looked too big for him to fill, but he played the part well enough to be made top pick overall in the 2011 rookie draft.
Again, the weight of expectations that comes with being the No. 1 rookie pick seemed too heavy for him to carry, but after a rocky start to his freshman season he went on to establish himself as one of the finest guards in the pro league.
But just when he is starting to settle in his role as Powerade's starting guard, Casio found the team sold to Mikee Romero's Global Port. Not long after he found himself on the move again, this time headed for Alaska.
The professional that he is, Casio still practiced with Global Port in the days leading up to the big trade.
“Nag-practice pa po ako sa Global (Port) nung Wednesday to Friday. Alam ko na may trade talks nga na nangyayari na involved ako. Di ko naman po talaga alam ano ang puwedeng mangyari dahil first time ko siyang ma-experience. But I just had to prepare myself physically and mentally,” added the baby-faced playmaker.
Among other things, Casio said he looks forward to reuniting at Alaska with his coach Louie Alas, one of coach Luigo Trillo's assistants and his former coach in the amateur leagues.
“Malaki ang natulong ni coach Louie sa laro ko. He really helped me develop the work ethics I had. He would always emphasize hard work,” said Casio, who played under Alas during their days in the Philippine Basketball League with Toyota Otis.
Alas, for his part, has no doubt that Casio will again live up to expectations.
“Excited kami to have JV. He’s a proven winner and leader on and off the court," said Alas. "Masipag siya kaya magiging susunod na magaling na point guard iyan sa PBA."