A new era at Alaska dawns this coming PBA 45th season as the franchise’s emphasis will be on junior guard Jeron Teng and its youth brigade.
Team board of governor Richard Bachmann said Teng is expected to take a more active role as he begins to inherit the mantle of leadership for the Aces under the first full season of coach Jeff Cariaso.
“The plan is to revolve the team around Jeron (this season). We expect big things from him,” said Bachmann, stressing the Aces are putting premium on youth following the acquisitions they’ve gotten from last conference all the way to the off season.
Veterans Vic Manuel and JVee Casio along with Kevin Racal and the retiring Sonny Thoss will still play a huge part in Alaska’s season campaign beginning with the Philippine Cup.
It is clear Teng will now be the take-charge guy for one of the most accomplished teams in PBA history.
Teng played huge in the Aces advancing to the quarterfinals of the last Governors Cup where the team began its campaign losing its first five games and the sophomore guard from La Salle out with an injury.
But when he came back, the Aces won four of their last five outings to make the playoffs, although Teng went down with a knee injury and missed Alaska’s last two games, including a 94-84 loss in the quarterfinals against Meralco.
Teng will have plenty of help from a team that will be parading one of the youngest rosters for the coming season.
During the off season, Alaska signed up rookies Barkley Ebonia, Jaycee Marcelino, and Rey Publico, while acquiring Mike Digregorio from TnT Katropa for Simon Enciso.
Outside of this young core, the Aces had also gotten the services of big man Abu Tratter, Maverick Ahanmisi, and the duo of Robbie Herndon and Rodney Brondial in a spate of trades they did during the season-ending Governors Cup.
Bachmann is quite thrilled having two top gunners in Digregorio and Herndon manning the wings for the Aces.
Herndon showed exactly what he can do for the Aces when he tallied 21 points in leading the team to a 115-100 win over Blackwater in their recent tune-up outing at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Meanwhile, with the 38-year-old Thoss signed up only until the all-Filipino conference, a lot will be expected from Tratter, Brondial, and beanpole Yutien Andrada at the post.
And then there’s Manuel, who is coming off an impressive run in the last 30th Southeast Asian Games as part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that won the men’s basketball gold.
With Manuel playing his best basketball and complementing the Aces’ young turks that also includes sophomore Jesper Ayaay, Abel Galliguez, and Gideon Babilonia, Bachmann is optimistic about Alaska’s coming campaign.
“We’ll be competitive,” said the Alaska team manager.