After 22 years with Tim Cone, the Alaska Aces are making another coaching change after just seven months.
Alaska team manager Joaqui Trillo told InterAKTV that erstwhile assistant Luigi Trillo, his son, will be taking over head coaching duties for Joel Banal, who has resigned from the team.
Banal was signed by the Aces to a three-year deal last September to replace Cone. But under the new coach, Alaska stumbled to its worst finish in an all-Filipino conference, finishing ninth in the Philippine Cup. The Aces improved its standing in the Commissioner’s Cup, finishing fifth.
“The goal of the Alaska franchise is to be in the semis of every conference and we did not meet that goal in the past two conferences, so I wanted to give management the chance to look at options,” said Banal in a statement released by Alaska.
“Joel’s selflessness to offer us options is extremely magnanimous on his part,” said Uytengsu. “It speaks volumes for how professional he is putting the team’s interest ahead of his own. Joel heeded our call when Tim abruptly asked to be released from his live contract (intimating he wanted time away from coaching) and 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.”
Joaqui Trillo said Luigi’s appointment was in an interim capacity.
“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 this season,” said Joaqui Trillo.
The younger Trillo and Jojo Lastimosa, both Alaska assistant coaches, were considered for the post.
“It was a tough choice because both candidates have a lot to offer and in the end I decided to go with Luigi because he has had head coaching experience in the PBL and the D-League. Joaqui inhibited himself in the final decision because he was conflicted being Luigi’s father. I believe Jojo will continue to be a team player and because he has a lot to offer from his playing experience and also wants to see the Aces resume its winning tradition,” said Uytengsu.
Luigi was a former point guard for the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP. After a knee injury, he turned to coaching, taking over the Adamson Falcons in the UAAP and becoming part of the Alaska coaching staff.
He is part of a dubious record with Adamson, going winless in his first two seasons as coach as the program went into rebuilding mode. But he has steadily made his name as a bright young coach, transforming the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems into a contender in the PBL and the PBA D-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,” he said.
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