Alaska Aces assistant coach Danny Ildefonso believes the Aces unearthed two gems in the offseason when they drafted modern big Ben Adamos in the first round and then signed up journeyman Yousef Taha in free agency.
Ildefonso described Adamos, the 6-foot-7 onetime pillar for San Beda and Perpetual, as a "high IQ player."
"He's got a very good attitude. He's a great kid who works really hard and is very coachable so I expect him to only get better," Ildefonso told ESPN5 on the eve of Alaska's game against Magnolia at the Ynares Center in Pasig (TV5 and PBA Rush).
In his debut, Adamos gave a good account of himself, scoring seven points, grabbing five rebounds, and issuing an assist in the Aces' 103-77 spanking of Blackwater.
His big man coach further described him as a cross between recently retired slotman Sonny Thoss and bruising forward Vic Manuel, whom the team dealt to Phoenix in the offseason.
Don't forget that Ildefonso knows what he's talking about, as he is an eight-time champion and two-time MVP considered one of the best bigs the PBA has ever seen.
On the other hand, Taha is another welcome sight for Alaska as he also helps fill the big hole left by Thoss and Manuel.
The Fil-Palestinian had a solid debut in the Aces' red and white after tallying 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with seven boards and three assists off the bench.
"He's a very smart player who contributes a lot to the team's defense and offense," shared Ildefonso, largely credited fwith molding six-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo into a dominant force during their time together in San Miguel.
Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso meantime, is hopeful that his wards will only get better as they play more games.
"The fact that we haven't played against any other team since last year exposed the rust we had," remarked Cariaso. "I still believe it will take a few more games to get to a comfortable level."
With games against the Hotshots and Fuel Masters for the week, the mentor hopes they continue to persevere, given the lack of tune-up matches before season start.
"The focus is on how to survive, to find a way to win as we improve all the aspects of our game," he expressed.