Alaska's extra premium on defense to augur well for Aces' coming PBA campaign, says Calvin Abueva
Alaska continues to polish its defense in the off-season, according to Calvin Abueva, under visiting Australian coach Rob Beveridge. Jerome Ascano

WITH emphasis put on defense, Calvin Abueva is optimistic Alaska will have a better season when the PBA turns 40 this year.

“After nitong two weeks na training na ito, baka mas maganda ikalalabas ng team namin kasi preparation sa amin ito for the new season,” Abueva told just shortly after the team’s Saturday workout with visiting Australian coach Rob Beveridge at the Gatorade Hoops Center.

The Aces have been working with Beveridge since training camp began two weeks ago.

Abueva, the man they called `The Beast’, said the Aces hardly had time to work on their set plays as Bevderidge had been putting a lot of emphasis on team defense, one of Alaska’s strong points even during the time of former coach Tim Cone.

“Sa amin kasi, di pa `yung set plays and tinuturo, kundi `yung depensa. Paana mag-man ang tao namin, saka `yung pag tulungan namin sa loob ng court. Yun ang ina-adjust namin,” the athletic Alaska wingman pointed out.

The arrival of rookies Chris Banchero and Rome dela Rosa, according to Abueva, will also be a big boost to the team considering the two young players have speed to match up against opposing teams.

Banchero, the Fil-Italian guard out of Seattle Pacific University, can also penetrate strong to the basket, while also boasting a decent touch from the perimeter.

The 6-foot-3 De La Rosa, son of former PBA player Romy dela Rosa, on the other hand, brings an additional perimeter defender for Alaska.

“Sa amin quickness din wino-workout ngayon, like yung mabilis ang ikot ng depensa, mabilis ang  pag-switch ng tao,” Abueva said.

“Eh si Erik menk, makikita mo sa practice, kahit matanda na, pero magaling pa rin talaga, pati sa poste,” added the former San Sebastian star, who was also Rookie of the Year two seasons ago.

Alaska finished fourth in the season-ending Governors Cup on Compton’s first conference with the team after taking over the coaching reins from Luigi Trillo.

The Aces finished with an 8-7 record in the same conference and engaged Rain or Shine in a fierce five-game semifinal series, before losing to the Elasto Painters in their rubber match.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava