October 30, 2017

Alas thankful to Alaska, lays big plans for Phoenix

Alas' first order of business as the head coach of the Phoenix Fuel Masters was to thank the people who helped him get there even as he relished the brand new challenge ahead of him.

Alas showed up at the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft a few days after he took over the spot vacated by Ariel Vanguardia, who served four conferences with the young team.

Before talking about his new team, Alas first showed his appreciation to the Alaska Aces.

"Immeasurable yung natulong ng Alaska sa akin specially si coach Alex Compton," Alas, the lead assistant coach of the Aces until he grabbed the Phoenix offer. "Nagpapasalamat ako na naintindihan nila yung kalagayan ko as a coach."

It was not the first time that Alas was approached to be the head coach of another PBA team.

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"Last year I declined immediately. Ngayon nung tumawag si team manager Paolo (Bugia) sabi ko ready na ako makipag-usap and I'm very interested. But we had to ask for permission. Ako, pwede akong magtanong kay coach Alex kung pwede kaming mag-usap," Alas said, and so he called Compton.

"Sinabi ni coach Alex sa akin na 'Coach, kilala mo ako, hindi ako pumipigil sa mga opportunity so go.' Sinabihan niya rin ako na kausapin si Mr. Bugia para kausapin from GM and pumayag naman si boss Dickie (Bachmann). Nung napaalam ko na nang maayos, naging madali na yung negotiations namin and in less than 10 days okay na lahat."

The quick turnaround allowed Alas to have some time to take a closer look at the lineup of Phoenix to see what exactly they need in the draft.

"Ang talagang need ng team na ito is a big man. Yung kahit papano, kung si June Mar (Fajardo) average niya mga 28 points, kahit mababa mo lang sa 16 points, okay na," Alas noted.

But he is also aware that after Christian Standhardinger, no other big man is close to equal the Fil-German's skill so they settled for Jason Perkins with their first round pick.

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"Major part yan ng team kasi kasama talaga sa rotation yan," Alas said of the hefty forward. "If maayos yung maging practice niya, baka mag-start pa siya."

Phoenix also picked Sidney Onwubere, Jayson Grimaldo, Wilson Baltazar, Dan Sara, and JK Casino although it isn't sure which of these rookies will e signed up. Alas said he's looking for two more key pieces to help them complete next conference.

"Yung susunod na conference all-Filipino so wala ka nang aasahan tulad nung Eugene Phelps," Alas explained. "Ngayon nakikita ko na nine guys lang yung nasa rotation si coach Ariel (Vanguardia) so we need to add three pieces para maka-compete and our target is to be in the semifinals." (Carlo Pamintuan)