A FEW months after Luigi Trillo’s first head-coaching stint ended in a disappointing 2-7 record, Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu gave his rookie coach a vote of confidence - but with a big, bold challenge.
“I told Luigi, ‘Luigi, I see a lot of potential in you, but it’s gonna take a lot of work ... so if you’re prepared (to work) the hardest you could work, then we have a deal,’” Uytengsu told a handful of sports scribes at center court after the awarding ceremony on Sunday night at the Big Dome.
Uytengsu said coaching a proud franchise like Alaska entails a lot of dedication, commitment, and hard work - all of which he expected from the untested Trillo.
“I told him I’m gonna work you really hard and I’ll expect a lot from you. You need to give me that commitment. You're gonna eat, sleep basketball 24/7, 365 days a year," said the Alaska big boss, whose franchise’s latest PBA title enabled the Aces to surpass the legendary Crispa Redmanizers' 13 titles.
"And in fairness to him, he has worked extremely hard, the players and coaches also worked extremely hard and this is the result,” Uytengsu added.
Uytengsu said he considers Alaska’s first PBA title in the post-Tim Cone era as new chapter in the franchise’s 27-year PBA existence and not a continuation of its dynastic rule in the nineties.
“People kept asking me, ‘Did you expect the 1990s to happen?’ But I said, This is a new chapter, so of course not. But we were just lucky to build from strength to strength and success to success,” he said.
At the same time, the outspoken owner admitted he was surprised to see his team win the championship this early considering the vital pieces of Alaska's current roster were put together only before the start of the season.
“All we have to do is work and continue to work hard. If we have success, you can write about it four or five years down the road. History will tell but right now, I don’t want to put pressure. We just want to work hard and win with integrity,” Uytengsu said.