MANILA, Philippines -- Olu Ashaolu was solid in his debut for Alaska in the PBA Governors Cup, and Aces head coach Jeff Cariaso is confident that the import will only get better.
Ashaolu had 20 points and 14 rebounds in Alaska's 87-85 win over the NorthPort Batang Pier on Wednesday night, in what was the first game of the conference for both teams. He showed good chemistry with his teammates, with Alaska star Jeron Teng noting that Ashaolu "really fits with the team."
Cariaso was quick to agree with Teng, saying that the 33-year-old Ashaolu is "our perfect guy."
"For tonight, I think he did just enough, the right things, to help his teammates, and that's one thing about him. He's a team guy, and that's why we're happy and excited that he's with us," said Cariaso.
Ashaolu was on the floor in crunch time for Alaska, and helped free up Robbie Herndon for the turnaround jumper that put the Aces ahead for good. On the other end, he grabbed a clutch rebound after NorthPort's Robert Bolick bricked a three-pointer, forcing the Batang Pier to foul.
His NorthPort counterpart, Cameron Forte, had 18 points and 15 rebounds but sat out the final 6:24 of the game.
Although he was already pleased with Ashaolu's debut, Cariaso said he has no doubt that their import can only get better.
"Obviously, early pa lang sa conference 'to. So I feel like he's still gonna get better with his timing and his game shape. That's why it's critical and very important to try to get early wins, while you're still getting into the game shape mode," said Cariaso.
"Hindi pa 'yan 'yung best niya. We're gonna see his best," the coach guaranteed.
Alaska will be back in action on Friday against San Miguel Beer.