Can Jeron Teng take the Alaska Aces to the next level?

There are a lot of interesting storylines for each team as we open another PBA season on Sunday, March 8. Several ESPN5.com writers covering the league examine and look at the different PBA teams, highlighting the storyline for each, heading into the 2020 Philippine Cup.


Additions: Mike DiGregorio (via trade), Jaycee Marcelino (rookie), Barkley Ebona (rookie)

Subtractions: Simon Enciso, Jake Pascual

Holdovers: Robbie Herndon, Abu Tratter, Sonny Thoss, Jeron Teng, Maverick Ahanmisi, Abel Galliguez, Vic Manuel, Jasper Ayaay, Yutien Andrada, Kevin Racal, Rodney Brondial

The lowdown

Things are looking good for the Aces.

They signed two promising rookies in Jaycee Marcelino, who can pretty much "do everything at the point guard position," as well as hardworking big man Barkley Ebona.

Mike DiGregorio could return to his old form after seeing his numbers dip with TNT (3.4 points on 26 percent shooting from 3-point area). With more playing time, DiGregorio could easily surpass his averages of 11.6 rebounds and 2.1 rebounds.

Most importantly, Vic Manuel is healthy.

Now with a good mix of veterans and young bloods and one full offseason to prepare under head coach Jeff Cariaso, Alaska could go deep into the playoffs this year after failing to advance to the semifinals of each of the conferences last season.

"Nothing beats being able to play together in a longer period of time. We're hoping at least the start will be a little bit better than last conference," said a hopeful Cariaso.

Biggest question: Can Jeron Teng become the leader the coaches want him to be?

It's not the first time Teng has found himself in a situation with a daunting task of leading a team. Since high school, he was that guy. He even won a pair of championships for La Salle in college as the top dog.

While this challenge is nothing new to him, it will be intriguing to see how Teng will lead a crew that also includes veterans like Manuel, Sonny Thoss, and Jayvee Casio.

Teng tried to shy away from that tag when asked about his bigger role, saying his team's fate hinges on everyone committing to the team's goal. Cariaso said Teng will be fine.

"We love Jeron. We love his work ethic. We love what he brings in regards to his game. We're hoping he'll be a little bit more of a leader and to not feel like he's in the background anymore. And to kinda step up," he said.

"He's been doing that slowly. That's something you cannot force upon anyone."