Veteran coach Louie Alas brings pet pressure defense, running game to Phoenix
Louie Alas presides over his first practice with the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Jan Ballesteros

BEING a head coach of a PBA team is nothing new to Louie Alas. 

But even someone as experienced as the new Phoenix coach can feel jittery in his first day on the job, as was the case when Alas presided over his first official practice with the Fuel Masters on Monday.

The longtime Alaska assistant coach admitted struggling at first as he huddled the rebuilding Fuel Masters near midcourt of the Upper Deck Gym, just a week after being named to replace Ariel Vanguardia.

But after wrapping up the intense training that lasted for two hours, Alas couldn't help but feel excited about their buildup for the coming season - his first in the PBA since a coaching stint with Mobiline from 2000.

"Parang nag-struggle ako nung first few minutes dahil after six years (naging head coach uli ako)," he said. "Pero nung nakuha ko na yung bearing, okay na. Looking forward na ako bukas. Excited na ako." 

Planning to turn the franchise into a defensive juggernaut, Alas wasted no time in introducing to the team their main weapon - pressure defense.

It was the same system Alas said he used with the national team from 1997-1999 and Letran, where he won three NCAA championships from 1998 to 2005.

Phoenix guard RJ Jazul was one of the players who played for the Knights under the 54-year-old Alas, who also won an MBA championship with the Manila Metrostars and an ABL title with the Philippine Patriots.

"Yung (gusto kong i-instill yung) dati ko pa ring ginagawa sa mga teams ko - 'yung high-energy defense tsaka yung running on every opportunity sa offense," he said.

The amiable tactician, though, does not expect the transition to be breezy but hopes to have everyonein sync in time for the December 17 opening of the new season.

"Di mo pa sila mababasa. Unang una ang holdovers nila sampu lang, nagdagdag lang ako sa draft picks," he said.

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