IT'S definitely not the way to start the season for Alaska.
Coming off a finals appearance in the PBA Governors Cup, Alaska will be without two key players including top star Vic Manuel to kick off its season in the Philippine Cup.
Coach Alex Compton confirmed the bad news during the league's first-ever Media Day at the Solaire Tent ushering the league's 44th season.
Manuel will be out for the entire all-Filipino tournament owing to a back injury while guard Simon Enciso will be sidelined for six weks after undergoing a knee procedure.
“Ang dami naming injuries. Simon had surgery, Vic is out probably for most of the conference, and Chris (Banchero) is fighting through three injuries,” said Compton, who went straight to the event after arriving from the U.S. on Thursday.
The Alaska coach added veteran big man Sonny Thoss is not yet ready to go and guard JVee Casio is also injured.
“We have a few guys that are banged up. But we’ll just have to deal with it. We’ll just kind of step into it,” Compton said.
Enciso, who has slowly inserted himself as part of Alaska’s backcourt rotation following a huge season last year, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee under renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Canlas.
“More on cleaning stuff, it’s not overly invasive,” said Compton. “But it does take six weeks (to heal).”
“Vic will be out for a while and we’ll sort of see how it goes,” Compton said of the ‘Muscle Man’ who had risen to become the Aces’ main man since the departure of Calvin Abueva.
“He has problem with his back which is something connected to this,” said Compton, pointing to the leg part which was what Manuel had been complaining about since the finals of the Governors Cup last December.
That same injury prevented Manuel from suiting up in Game 6 of the title series which the Hotshots won, 102-86, to clinch the championship.
“He was heartbroken that he couldn’t really bring his A-game to the finals. He really wanted to,” said Compton of his starlwart.
“Vic is obviously a key piece for us. He really tried. He was playing through pain. I knew he injured himself in Game 5 in the first half. I knew he wouldn’t play in Game 6. He couldn’t play anymore in Game 5 because of the injury. He was playing injured all those playoffs and was trying to fight through it.”
After a much-needed rest, the Aces won’t start practicing until Monday.