THE ALASKA ACES 2011-12 PREVIEW

This image will never happen because Mike Cortez is already with Ginebra.


FIVE CONFERENCES AGO:

2009-10 PHILIPPINE CUP – RUNNER-UP
2010 FIESTA CUP – CHAMPION
2010-11 PHILIPPINE CUP – QUARTERFINALS
2011 COMMISSIONER’S CUP – QUARTERFINALS
2011 GOVERNOR’S CUP – SEMIFINALS


Wow. This is a first. I’m going to rate the Alaska Aces on the bottom of the pack. The Aces suffered a ginormous setback when they lost Tim Cone to a team that would offer him the best players the salary cap (whether over or under the table) would allow. That’s B-Meg by the way. This is basically the weakest Alaska team since the team loaned their stars to the 1998 Asian Games-bound squad (Rhoel Gomez and Rodney Santos were elevated to main men status). 

But the Aces remain unfazed. Joel Banal has taken over the ruins and I will love it if Banal, Jojo Lastimosa, and Bong Hawkins will face Cone, Johnny Abarrientos, and Jeffrey Cariaso Alaska versus B-Meg 3-on-3 match. Also with Luigi Trillo, the Aces will try to salvage the fact that life goes on sans their beloved mentor.

The triumvirate of LA Tenorio, Cyrus Baguio, and Sonny Thoss will be the team’s source of awesomeness. Lieutenant Tenorio won a title with Banal as coach and the team will warrant his leadership more than ever. Thoss is a headache for teams with weak frontlines while Baguio’s ability to find numerous ways to score is something that the Aces need to exploit. Tony Dela Cruz, a superstar once at Shell needs to jolt his career back to its old form. Same can be said to Jay-R Reyes, Sam Eman, and Bonbon Custodio. Reyes was acquired by Alaska for Joe Devance so he needs to perform well this season because the void left by JDV is seriously big.

Wesley Gonzales, another 2002 Ateneo title member, has responded well to the triangle system and may get his nth break in the league with the Aces.




If there is one thing good about the departure of Cone, this will be the usage of rookies. A number of careers started badly because they spent it with Alaska and that’s about to change with Mac Baracael, Eric Salamat, Ariel Mepana, and Julius Pasculado summing Alaska’s biggest rookie signed haul since 1993 when the then-Air Force claimed Abarrientos, Johnedel Cardel, and Dickie Bachmann.   

Rounding out the roster are veterans Brandon Cablay, Hans Thiele, Ervin Sotto, and Paolo Bugia.

OUTLOOK: On paper, Alaska is not that good. They have a lot of kinks to fix. However Alaska has proven time and time again that they have the best team money can buy… on a budget. While the Aces will certainly have the heart to beat the odds, Alaska will face tough competition from teams that grew stronger and I don’t know if they can hang with the upper half of the league. Unless Eman, Reyes, Gonzales, Baracael, Custodio, and Dela Cruz perform better and help the trio, I doubt their chances.

PHILIPPINE CUP RANK: SEVENTH

Game over.

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