The Alaska Aces started the season strong, and just kept going.
After their painful loss to the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters in the Philippine Cup semi-finals, we knew that the Aces would be back with a vengeance. They had the talent to get the championship in the last conference, but got lost along the way. Gatas Republik was on the edge of their seats as their team took on 6’9” import Robert Dozier, knowing that Alaska was destined to do better this time around.
Fans weren’t disappointed in the elimination round as Alaska remained at the top spot all throughout. Their only losses were against the Tim Cone-led San Mig Coffee Mixers, 2-0, and an upset by Air 21, 1-1. Regardless of these losses, the Aces remained cool and collected. They had a dominant and successful run, ending eliminations at the top spot with a twice to beat advantage against Air 21.
In the quarter finals, they easily disposed of Air 21 and went on to face the much-feared San Mig Coffee Mixers. There was some concern about this matchup since the Aces were on an 8-0 losing streak against their former coaches’ new team. Personally, I was praying for Meralco to be team to go through to the semis since I felt like Alaska’s excellent season would be a waste against SMC. Boy, did they prove me wrong. Things looked bleak when they lost the first game of the series, but they bounced back and grabbed three straight wins to enter the finals against Ginebra.
Ginebra’s determination is impressive and their journey to the finals was definitely a lot more difficult than the Aces’. It was impossible to call which team would come out victorious, with Ginebra’s never-say-die attitude versus Alaska’s consistent game and excellent defense. In the end, crowd-favorite Ginebra was just too tired to keep up with the Aces. The Aces were relentless, steamrolling over Barangay Ginebra to sweep the finals series.
One thing that made the Aces stand out this conference was their outstanding teamwork. With every member of the team comfortable with doing their role, they were impossible to outplay.
Two players stood out for me: Calvin Abueva and Robert Dozier.
Calvin Abueva – Rookie Calvin Abueva was the heart and soul of the team. Not all of Alaska’s wins were easy ones, most were actually come-from-behind games. When it seemed impossible for the Aces to come out victorious, Abueva would come to life – using his body to draw fouls, taking risky shots and basically frustrating the opposing team. He ended the season with a PER (player efficiency rating) of 14.34, putting him in the same league as several leading veterans. We can definitely expect great things from The Beast in the coming conferences. I just wish he’d be more careful. Tone down the physicality – with the way he’s playing now an injury is not far off! *knocks on wood*
Robert Dozier – Robert Dozier was not the flashiest import but he was definitely the most consistent. Based on my observation, he only had around three or four quiet games in terms of scoring but he was always active on the defensive front. He led all imports with a PER of 26.75, proving how effective he was in all aspects. He was undoubtedly the most deserving of the Best Import award.
What did they do right this time around?
Alaska formed a team that was built for a championship. The management made changes that involved a lot of risks, like trading veteran point guard LA Tenorio for sophomore guard JVee Casio. They also acquired the sensational rookie Calvin Abueva, though most analysts thought that he was picked too high and did not fit Alaska’s triangle offense. They also brought in veteran swingman Dondon Hontiveros, who most teams thought was past his prime. Another trade that confused many was Jay-R Reyes for Gabby Espinas. It was surprising since Jay-R Reyes averaged a double double during the last conference.
This team was definitely rebuilding. Despite all these, Luigi Trillo somehow put this team together amidst doubt. The team showed brilliance during the preseason with their new import Robert Dozier. Coach Luigi adjusted to his players individual strengths and did not limit his offensive plays to the triangle offense. The Aces showed teamwork and resiliency throughout the conference. Each player knew their role – Baguio was slashing, Casio was dishing, Abueva was rebounding, Hontiveros was shooting and Thoss was stopping imports.
This team is a team! One factor that may be in question is: who will fill in Dozier’s shoes in this conference? Dozier played huge last conference, being rewarded as the best import of the conference. He also lead Alaska in points and rebounding. Because of the height limit this conference, we may see a different kind of line up from Alaska. We can expect Calvin Abueva to play the four spot since he is more deadly in this position. Regardless of who their new import will be, each and every member of the Alaska Aces definitely has the heart of a champion.
See more posts from this series
- Retribution On-Hold: The Rain or Shine 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- Never Say Never: The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- Roller-coaster conference: The San Miguel Coffee Mixers 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- The One That Got Away: The Petron Blaze Boosters 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- Heart of a Champion: The Alaska Aces 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Conference Review
- Four Blind Mice: The Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review