FROM the moment he was given the green light to shake Alaska’s roster prior to the start of the PBA’s 38th season, Luigi Trillo said he was convinced he had built a solid foundation for the team’s future.
And in just his second conference as a full-time head coach, Trillo found himself with his first PBA championship after a forgettable performance last season, which saw the Aces win just 11 games in total.
“When we came in, I knew we built a good foundation,” said a beaming Trillo, who gave the Uytengsu-owned franchise its first PBA crown in the post-Tim Cone era.
“A lot of thank you to sir Fred (Uytengsu, team owner). He allowed me to get some trades in (RJ) Jazul, (Gabby) Espinas and an understanding with LA (Tenorio) to move forward,” explained the youthful Alaska mentor.
Trillo, who won just five games during last season’s Governors Cup following the resignation of Joel Banal, said they also got key pieces to their championship run with the entry of Dondon Hontiveros, JV Casio and Calvin Abueva, the second pick overall of the rookie draft.
Best Import awardee Robert Dozier was also a perfect fit for the Aces, according to Trillo, though the solid defensive presence of veteran center Sonny Thoss and the timely outside sniping of Casio spelled the big difference in the series.
“We took care of business early. We figured out Air21 and then we also figured out San Mig, two teams that beat us in the elims this conference. But Ginebra had a shorter rotation in and they got fatigued,” he said.
Trillo said last conference’s heartbreaking 2-4 Philippine Cup semifinal series defeat to eventual champion Talk ‘N Text also prepared the Aces for the Commissioner’s Cup.