Alaska opens Commish Cup defense against TNT


Posted at Mar 05 2014 11:59 AM | Updated as of Mar 05 2014 07:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Alaska Aces will start what is expected to be a difficult defense of their PBA Commissioners Cup crown Wednesday night against the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Alaska is bringing back import Rob Dozier, who helped lead them to the title last season, but the team is expected to have a difficult time against a motivated TNT squad.

“Talk 'N Text is a tough opponent,” Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo told “Every time we play them, our game is usually decided in the last play.”

Trillo does not even consider his team as the favorites in the Commissioner’s Cup, naming San Mig Coffee, Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, Rain or Shine and TNT as the favored squads.

“The playing field is different this conference. Tough teams have found ways to even get stronger by adding depth through the draft and player movements,” said Trillo. “Big men this year are changing the game.”

“Asi (Taulava) is back, and the additions of (Greg) Slaughter, (Japeth) Aguilar, (June Mar) Fajardo, (Ian) Sangalang, (Rabeh) Al-Hussaini and (Raymund) Almazan have strengthened teams,” he added.

Alaska retained the core of its 2013 team, adding rookies Ryan Buenafe and Christopher Exciminiano through the draft, but will likely have an advantage thanks to Dozier’s chemistry with the squad.

Talk 'N Text, for its part, has tabbed Richard Howell as its import, and head coach Norman Black is expecting a lot from his reinforcement.

“This is an import-reinforced conference, so we need Richard Howell to be productive, especially on the defensive end,” said Black.

Trillo said the addition of Howell can only make TNT an even tougher team.

“Howell has good credentials in the NBA D-League, so we will have our hands full,” he said.

Game time is at 8 p.m.