ALASKA coach Luigi Trillo acknowledged that the decision to pick Ryan Buenafe over highly regarded rookie prospects like Jeric Teng and Nico Salva was a calculated risk, but believes the former Ateneo star will make his teammates and the team better in the long run.
Speaking a day after making Buenafe the No. 8 pick overall of the PBA draft, Trillo recognized that both Teng and Salva bring a lot of upside to teams, but he felt Buenafe's "smarts and passing skills" will make Alaska veterans like Sonny Thoss, JV Casio, and Cyrus Baguio better.
"Ryan is an extremely good passer. He's got basketball smarts and I feel Sonny, Cy and JV would like to play with Ryan," Trillo told Spin.ph on Monday before the team's practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Asked about the two high-profile players he passed up to take Buenafe, Trillo said he felt the 6-foot-4 Salva is a power forward who will have to slide down to the small forward spot in the pro league, while Teng is more of a two-guard combo.
The youthful Alaska coach is nonetheless prepared to deal with problems involving Buenafe, whose draft value was weighed down by his tendency to gain additional pounds during the offseason. The 2011 UAAP Finals MVP even had to sit out one season for Ateneo due to weight issues.
Trillo made it clear Buenafe will have to whip himself into top shape if he is to shine with the Aces.
"Now it's gonna be a challenge for him (Buenafe) because today (Monday) is his first official day with the team. He will have to work with our strengths and conditioning coach Gus Vargas and with a nutritionist. He's gonna have to put extra work in the gym and make extra shots," he added.
Trillo, however, draws confidence from the fact that Buenafe would be surrounded with players who have admirable work ethic at Alaska and can be a positive influence on the 6-2 forward.
"He's got guys who could influence him, guys who have strong work ethic, like Calvin (Abueva), who just wants to win. Then there's Sonny and Cy, so he's got pieces all around him," said Trillo.