ALASKA'S biggest offseason move may come as a big surprise, but Aces head coach Luigi Trillo said it was a “calculated risk” the team needed to take in order to come up with a more competitive lineup when the PBA opens its 38th season on September 30.
The Aces made the bold move of parting ways with spitfire guard and Jones Cup MVP LA Tenorio, who landed in Ginebra San Miguel’s lap. But in return, Alaska got former Smart-Gilas mainstay playmaker JV Casio along with the Gin Kings’ 2015 second round pick.
An added “bonus,” according to Trillo, was the acquisition of veteran gunner Dondon Hontiveros from Petron in exchange for Hans Thiele and Wesley Gonzales.
“I believe the trade is great for both teams. But I should admit that we lost our leader in LA Tenorio. He has been the face of the team for years but we felt that with JV Casio and Dondon coming over, we now have an up and coming star and a veteran shooter who can come off the bench,” Trillo told Spin.ph.
On the other hand, Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu thanked the 5-8 Tenorio for his contributions to the Aces during his five-year tenure with the team beginning in 2008.
“We wish LA well and thank him for his leadership while he was wearing an Aces jersey. He will be successful wherever he goes. At the same time, we believe JV can bring a lot of dynamism to our team and has the youth to have a long career with Alaska," Uytengsu said in a statement.
While Alaska no doubt got more firepower with the addition of the sweet-shooting Hontiveros, a vital cog in the past championships of Petron, Trillo said their next challenge is how to mesh Casio and Hontiveros with the rest of the Aces over a short period of time.
Another obstacle is slotman Sonny Thoss' stint with Gilas in the Fiba Asia Cup, which would keep him away from the team's practices in the two weeks leading up to the new season.
“I think there’s gonna be a lot of adjustment on our part with the two new guys coming in, plus Sonny (Thoss) playing for Gilas. Though the great thing about this is that in a best-of-five series or best-of-seven series, we now have guys who can come off the bench and provide scoring support,” added Trillo who recently signed a fresh three-year coaching pact with Alaska.
Casio, last year’s top rookie pick, gave a good account of himself last season after leading the Powerade Tigers to the Finals during the Philippine Cup, where the Tigers lost to the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.
The Tigers franchise has since been bought by businessman-sportsman Mikee Romero, who will be parading his team Global Port this coming season.