PBA Commissioner's Cup fires off Wednesday

By Nelson Beltran, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 02 2014 09:02 AM | Updated as of Mar 02 2014 05:02 PM

Aces see crowded room at the top

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the return of Best Import winner Rob Dozier, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo doesn’t expect things to be easy in their title defense in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup which fires off Wednesday.

Trillo sees a tough road ahead for his troops as he considers San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Petron Blaze as the heavy favorites to contend for the coveted crown that the Aces won over the Kings last year via a 3-0 sweep in their best-of-five title showdown.

The youthful Alaska mentor also points to Rain or Shine and Talk n Text as the other major contenders.

"The playing field is different this conference," Trillo told The STAR.

"Tough teams have found ways to even get stronger by adding depth through the draft and player movements. Big men this year are changing the game," Trillo pointed out.

"Asi's back, and the additions of Slaughter, Aguilar, Fajardo, Sangalang, Al-Hussaini and Almazan have strengthened teams," Trillo added.

Taulava, Slaughter, Aguilar, Fajardo, Sangalang and Almazan have particularly improved the sizes and ceilings of Air21, Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, San Mig Coffee and Rain or Shine, respectively.

Alaska, meanwhile, has only become older – and perhaps wiser -- in retaining the nucleus of its 2012-13 roster.

Two new additions seeing minimal action with the Aces in the Philippine Cup are Ryan Buenafe and Christopher Exciminiano.

Still composing Trillo’s core group are Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Jayvee Casio, Calvin Abueva, Gabby Espinas, Dondon Hontiveros, RJ Jazul, Tony dela Cruz and Sam Eman.

What could be Alaska’s key advantage over the others is the tested chemistry of the Alaska locals with import Dozier.

"Rob is getting back to shape," said Trillo of his prized import, who’s taken a long rest after his PBA stint last year.

But Dozier himself could well be tested.

Quality imports are to slug it out in the mid-season tourney that unwraps at the Big Dome with a double-header pitting Air21 vs Globalport at 5:45 p.m. then Alaska against Talk n Text at 8 p.m.

In the cast are Josh Boone (San Miguel Beer), Joshua Dollar (Barako Bull), Leon Rodgers (Barangay Ginebra), Herve Lamizana (Air21), Evan Brock (GlobalPort), Alexander McLean (Rain or Shine), James Mays (San Mig Super Coffee), Richard Howell (Talk n Text) and Brian Butch (Meralco).