Alaska head coach Jeffrey Cariaso. INQUIRER PHOTO/TRISTAN TAMAYO

Alaska will be trying to plug a massive hole left by one of its old reliables, and the Aces are hoping they could do so through the PBA’s Rookie Draft next month.

“With Sonny Thoss pretty much retired, we’re [looking at] filling that void,” coach Jeff Cariaso told the Inquirer.


That sets Alaska’s sights on a specific type of player, one that rarely comes by in the PBA: the traditional center.

“We’re really looking at the bigs. We are curious [about] the talent of the bigs,” said Cariaso.


This year’s pool of PBA hopefuls is at a record high—97 aspirants, to be precise. It is also considered by both fans and pundits as one of the deepest in recent years, with prospects ranging from playmakers, athletic swingmen, to bruising big men.

Alaska will be having a prime pick in the first round, but its chance will come only after six other clubs have made their choices.

If anything, the Aces have a good chance of snaring a promising talent.

Terrafirma is projected to take 6-foot-4 guard Joshua Munzon at No. 1, hoping to replace CJ Perez, which the Dyip traded to powerhouse San Miguel Beer earlier this month.

NorthPort, meanwhile, is set to pick at No. 2, but the Batang Pier are expected to draft someone to man the wings, as they already have a talented center and guard in Christian Standhardinger and Robert Bolick, respectively.

That leaves NLEX, which will have picks No. 3 and 4, and then Rain or Shine and Phoenix, acquired in the Calvin Abueva trade from Magnolia, before Alaska gets its moment.

Cariaso said that the likes of James Laput (6’10”), Troy Rike (6’8”), and Larry Muyang (6’6”) have piqued the team’s interest.


“We’re curious [about] them. And we hope to get a workout in with them soon,” he said.

Ben Adamos (6’7”), Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser (6’7”), Taylor Statham (6’6”), and Leonard Santillan (6’4”) are other big men who also deserve a closer look.

With the Draft Combine shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic, PBA teams are reportedly using their small-group workouts as a means to have prospects log a workout ahead of the draft scheduled for March 14.

Alaska recently signed Yousef Taha, shoring up its front line that features champion Rodney Brondial, promising sophomore Barkley Eboña, and former Gilas trooper Abu Tratter. The Aces also picked up two-way player and Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League’s former most valuable player Gab Banal from free agency.

But a quality pickup could also afford the Aces some sort of leverage in its continued quest to ship out its disgruntled star, Vic Manuel, who in January publicly stated that he wanted out of the league’s second-winningest franchise. INQ

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