MANILA, Philippines – The Alaska Aces have appointed Luigi Trillo as interim head coach of their ball club after Joel Banal decided to step aside over the weekend.
In a statement, the Alaska organization said Banal decided to step aside "to give the Alaska Aces management an opportunity to explore coaching alternatives."
"The goal of the Alaska franchise is to be in the semi(finals) of every conference, and we did not meet that goal in the past two conferences," Banal said in the team statement. "I wanted to give management the chance to look at options."
"Joel's selflessness to offer us options is extremely magnanimous on his part," Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu said.
Uytengsu thanked Banal, who filled in as head coach of the Aces after longtime Alaska coach Tim Cone decided to leave the team.
"Joel stepped in at our request with very short notice and worked hard to continue Alaska's success. Unfortunately, it did not go the way we had wanted," Uytengsu said.
Uytengsu said Jojo Lastimosa was also considered for the head coaching position, but they decided to go with Trillo because of his coaching experience in the Philippine Basketball League and the PBA Developmental League.
"I'd like to thank Mr. Uytengsu and the Alaska organization for entrusting me with this position. Alaska has a winning tradition and we look forward to the challenges ahead. We can't wait to get started," Trillo said.
The Aces stumbled out of the gates in the PBA Philippine Cup, finishing in 9th place. They made the quarterfinals in the Commissioner's Cup, but were swept by the Barako Bull Energy in the opening round of the playoffs.
Alaska was also missing key players, including team captain Tony dela Cruz, Brandon Cablay and Wesley Gonzales, who were all out due to injuries.
This will be the first time that a father-son tandem will manage and coach a team in the PBA, as Joaqui Trillo remains the Alaska team manager.
Uytengsu said Joaqui Trillo inhibited in the final decision because of conflict of interest, being Luigi Trillo's father.
"Given that we are two-thirds through the season, we felt it made more sense to appoint an interim head coach, and then decide on a longer-term solution after the end of the season," Joaqui Trillo said.
The Aces also announced that they will bring back Jason Forte as their import for the third conference.
Forte brought the Aces to a tie for the second spot in Finals of the Governor's Cup in 2011, but lost out due to the quotient system.