alaskas.amazing

Members, officials and supporters of the Alaska Aces, led by team owner Wilfred Uytengsu, coach Luigi Trillo and Finals MVP Sonny Thoss, flash the No. 1 sign after bagging the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown with a three-game sweep of the Barangay Ginebra Kings at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Sunday.  (Photo by Jun Mendoza)


MANILA — Swift and sweet is Alaska Milk’s amazing journey from the bottom of the heap to regain its old luster as one of the pro league’s best.

And there’s no better way to complete the comeback than through a grand sweep of the Barangay Ginebra Kings, the most popular team in the league before record crowds and under a new mentor.

With nearly 25,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday, the Aces accomplished their mission to redeem its old glory since their breakup with their multi-titled coach Tim Cone, claiming the feat through a fusion of tested leadership of its management and the derring-do of its youngblood on the bench.

Alaska outclassed Barangay Ginebra for a third straight game, fashioning out a 104-80 rout to run away with the PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship.

In just his third conference as PBA head mentor, Luigi Trillo steered the Aces to an impressive campaign capped by their sweep of the Kings for the Uytengsu franchise’s first championship in three years and 14 in all since joining the league in 1986.

Trillo added up a personal perspective to this great championship run as he appeared to have unloaded a chunk of a burden after being hit with a grievous losing streak following the departure of Cone.

And the young bench tactician more than proved himself, joining the elite roster of PBA champion coaches in his first year in the pro league.

This former La Salle Green Archer carried much burden upon his appointment as the new Alaska Aces coach.

Chosen over former Alaska great Jojo Lastimosa among others, Trillo faced enormous pressure as interim coach in last year’s Governors Cup.

They failed to check the team’s slump from the time of coach Joel Banal, and the Aces finished the season with a forgettable performance that saw them win just 11 games through three conferences.

But working closely with team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Trillo learned the ropes quickly and the Aces emerged as championship contenders by the next conference.

“It helped a lot that Mr. Uytengsu is there, truly as a hands-on boss,” said Trillo.

Narrowly losing their Final Four duel with Talk n Text in the Philippine Cup, Trillo and his troops bounced back in the Commissioner’s Cup, putting up a performance to remember.

“When we came in, I knew we built a good foundation,” said Trillo.

“And a lot of thanks to sir Fred (Uytengsu). He allowed me to get some trades in (RJ) Jazul, (Gabby) Espinas and an understanding with LA (Tenorio) to move forward,” said Trillo.

“We built a good foundation and we enjoyed a bit of luck. We took care of business and went on a roll early. We figured out Air21 and San Mig Coffee (in the quarters and in the semis), two teams that beat us in the elims. And then we faced a Ginebra team coming out tired,” Trillo also said.

But observers were convinced Trillo did a wonderful job.

He came out of his shell, erasing the stigma of his forgettable stints with Adamson in the UAAP and finals losses with Cebuana Lhuillier in the PBL and in the PBA D-League.

“You really need to go through pain to learn. And I had a lot of that,” said Trillo, who before Sunday had always been haunted by his 29-game losing skid with the Adamson Falcons.