Cul­ture change for Phoenix

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By JOAQUIN M. HEN­SON

Newly des­ig­nated Phoenix head coach Louie Alas said the other day play­ing con­ser­va­tively will be a thing of the past when the Fuel Masters wel­come the PBA sea­son with a re­solve to en­gage in high­en­ergy de­fense for 48 minutes.

“We’ll be de­fense-ori­ented,” said Alas. “Our com­mit­ment to (PBA gov­er­nor) Atty. (Ray­mond) Zo­rilla is to change our cul­ture. Whether we’re up 20 or down 20, we’ll play as hard. What­ever we lack in tal­ent, we’ll make up by work­ing harder than other teams. De­fense is about hard work. There’s no luck in­volved. At prac­tice, we want it to be habit-form­ing. We do short but in­tense prac­tices of an hour and 30 minutes with only three one-minute wa­ter breaks. We want guys to get used to get­ting tired.”

Alas, 54, took over the reins from Ariel Van­guardia and brought in Topex Robin­son as his first as­sis­tant with Nic Be­lasco, Mel Alas, Ce­sar Tol­hen and Cris Reyes also in the staff. Alas and Robin­son were pre­vi­ously with Alaska.

Gone from last year’s cast are John Wil­son, Chico Lanete and Dy­lan Ababou. From the re­cent draft, Phoenix picked up 6-3 1/4 Ja­son Perkins of La Salle, 6-3 1/3 Sid­ney On­wu­bere of EAC, 6-4 Jasyon Grimaldo of MLQU, 6-2 1/2 Wil­son Bal­tazar of Lyceum, 5-8 1/3 Dan Sara of Sam Beda and 5-8 1/2 John Casino of Arel­lano. On­wu­bere, how­ever, is headed to TNT in ex­change for 6-5 rookie JonJon Gabriel and vet­eran Justin Chua. The deal is await­ing ap­proval by the PBA com­mis­sioner.

Re­turn­ing veter­ans are Wil­lie Wil­son, R. J. Jazul, Gio Alolino, Doug Kramer, J. C. In­tal, Karl De­hesa, Matthew Wright, Joseph Eri­obu, Marvin Hayes and Jeff Chan. “When Matthew’s out with Gi­las, there’s a big vac­uum in our team,” said Alas. “It’s not so much the games he’ll miss but it’s the prac­tices. No prob­lem with Matt pick­ing up but his team­mates will read­just, par­tic­u­larly in do­ing de­fen­sive drills. Of course, the pri­or­ity is our national team and Matt is a big part of their ro­ta­tion. The other guys are learn­ing to be more ag­gres­sive, less con­ser­va­tive, in de­fense.”

Alas pointed to Perkins as the next Wil­lie Wil­son or Joe De Vance. “Ja­son’s a very smart player, he picks up eas­ily whether he plays three or four,” said Alas. “He’s a back-in type, not a deep post player and he can hit the three. He’s a quick thinker and he knows how to use his body to get po­si­tion. We in­vited about 20 rook­ies for a pre-draft camp and Ja­son was the stand­out. We were lucky that Ja­son was still avail­able when we had our turn in the draft.”

Alas said he’s not look­ing to bring his son Kevin over from NLEX. “Kevin’s happy at NLEX, so­bra ang alaga sa kanya,” he said. “He loves coach Yeng (Guiao) and I think he’ll be a bet­ter player with Kiefer (Ravena) as a team­mate. When I was as­sis­tant coach at Alaska and we played against Kevin and NLEX last sea­son, my wife Liza cheered for Kevin. But now that I’m head coach, she’ll be cheer­ing for Phoenix. I’ve al­ways prayed for Kevin to do his best but when­ever we’re up against each other, I pray for us to win.”

It’s Alas’ sec­ond tour of duty as a PBA head coach af­ter Mo­bi­line/TNT in 200001. He coached the Manila Met­rostars to the MBA ti­tle in 1999, the national team to a gold medal at the 1999 SEA Games, Le­tran to three NCAA crowns in 1998, 2003 and 2005 and the Philip­pine Pa­tri­ots to the ABL cham­pi­onship in 2009-10. What’s miss­ing is a PBA di­a­dem.

“My most memorable cham­pi­onship was in the SEA Games be­cause that was for our coun­try,” he said. “An­other memorable ex­pe­ri­ence was win­ning the NCAA ti­tle in 2003 when no­body ex­pected Le­tran to make it with Aaron Aban, Boyet Bautista, Ron­jay En­rile and Jonathan Pin­era.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.