Coach Jeffrey Cariaso is confident that Alaska's drive to rebuild and create a new identity is right on track with the drafting of freshmen led by first-round pick Ben Adamos, Taylor Browne, Alec Stockton and RK Ilagan.
Of the four, Adamos and Browne were Cariaso's clear targets during last Sunday's Rookie Draft.
Adamos, a 6-foot-7 player out of San Beda and Perpetual Help in the NCAA, could hopefully address the team's lack of size as the Aces continue their transition from the Sonny Thoss era.
Of course, the trade recently that sent reliable post player Vic Manuel to Phoenix left the team without a legitimate inside threat.
"Ben will fill in a little of that void vacated by both Sonny and Vic. He has the skills to do so," Cariaso told ESPN5. "Of course, there's a need to adjust and get comfortable but we are confident in the player he will turn out to be."
Tasked to help Adamos develop into a strong and solid big man is none other than Alaska assistant coach Danny Ildefonso.
Ildefonso, credited largely for mentoring a young June Mar Fajardo during their brief time together at San Miguel, will try to replicate the same effort with Adamos.
The pride of Albay, Legazpi will surely benefit from Ildefonso, a former two-time PBA Most Valuable Player, known for his patience in teaching big men the fundamentals of the game.
Asked if Adamos can be Alaska's answer to Fajardo, the league's only six-time PBA MVP, Cariaso refuses to put the pressure on his incoming rookie big man this early.
"I think stopping June Mar will be different for anyone. I feel Ben will grow physically and mentally as he develops. Danny I will play a big role in that," he stressed.
Cariaso believes Adamos already has the skills for a big man to thrive in the PBA. The difference now lies in his attitude.
"He already has the skills set so now it's really about how bad he's willing to be the best player he can be and willingness to work," he added.
Adamos was one of the coveted big men in the rookie pool, having posted impressive stats line of 11.6 points on 45-percent shooting, along with 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for the Altas in the NCAA's Season 95.
The incoming Alaska rookie slotman honed his skills further in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), averaging 8.8 points and 7.2 boards for the Bacolod Master Sardines.
Meanwhile, Cariaso sees Browne thriving under the Aces' loaded backcourt.
"Taylor will be our 3 and D guy. As they say, you can't have enough shooters," shared the 48-year-old Alaska mentor, who piloted the Aces to a quarterfinal finish in the 2020 PBA bubble season. "His adjustment will be adapting to the PBA style but he definitely has the skills."
Browne may be under the radar for much of the time leading to last Sunday's draft. But his name could ring a bell for true-blue basketball fans, who have closely watched the Williams Jones Cup.
Browne represented Canada while playing for the University of British Columbian Thunderbirds in the Jones Cup. He came up with 25 markers, spiked by seven triples in UBC's 87-116 defeat at the hands off Mighty Sports in the 2019 William Jones Cup edition in Taiwan.
The 6-foot-3 Browne averaged 6.7 points on 37-percent shooting from threes, to go along with 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18.8 minutes for the Thunderbirds in the 2019-20 season.
The Aces no doubt, got younger with the additions of Adamos and Browne, along with another second-round pick Alec Stockton and RK Ilagan from the third round.
But Cariaso would like to see Alaska perform as a team rather than simply look at how his players will play individually.
"Thrilled to see what this group can accomplish. We are younger in average age because Vic has moved on and the acquisition of the rookies," said Cariaso.
"We are excited also for Alec and RK. We will see how they both can help us the most. What's awesome about them is they both have a skill that every team needs," he added. "Alec is your hard-nosed defender that will never back down. RK has range like Steph Curry and is a true point guard."