By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – After just two games into the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup, Alaska severed its ties with head coach Luigi Trillo, who steered the Aces to their 14th league championship but failed to advance to the semifinals in the past three conferences.
The announcement was made yesterday in a statement released by Aces management with no less than team owner Wilfred Uytengsu revealing that it was Trillo who stepped down.
Taking over as head coach is American mentor Alex Compton, who has played as an import in the PBA but has competed in various local tournaments and served as an assistant coach for several PBA teams.
Notwithstanding the statement, sources said it was management’s decision to fire Trillo because of his disagreements with several players. Alaska currently sports a 1-1 win-loss record, winning against San Miguel Beer (94-87) but losing to Globalport (95-91).
“They’re 1-1 and the Governors’ Cup is only on its early stage with seven more games to play. It’s surprising to replace a coach at this stage,” said the source, who requested anonymity but has knowledge of the issues within Alaska.
“There’s been a problem with the Alaska team between coach and the players. It’s not just this conference, matagal na ‘yan,” added the source, saying that things started to sour after Trillo won his first title with Alaska in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup with import Rob Dozier.
The Bulletin tried to contact Trillo separately but he didn’t answer calls.
In the statement, Uytengsu thanked Trillo’s efforts in handling the Alaska basketball team since he took over from Joel Banal at the start of the 2012 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Uytengsu said: “We are appreciative of Luigi’s efforts during his tenure as Head Coach and piloting the Aces to our 14th PBA title. But it has been a challenging ride the past three conferences.”
Trillo, a long-time assistant of Tim Cone with Alaska, took over from Banal as interim mentor in the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup in 2012. At the start of the 2012-13 season, he was officially named head coach of the Uytengsu-owned franchise.
After a semifinal stint in the Philippine Cup last season, Alaska barged into the championship round in the Commissioner’s Cup, where the Aces swept Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the five-game series.
At the end of the 39th PBA season, Trillo was named the PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year.
However, like in last season’s Governors’ Cup, the Aces also failed to advance to the semis of the last two conferences, including a loss to Cone’s San Mig Super Coffee during the Commissioner’s Cup despite taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
For his part, Trillo also thanked the Alaska organization in the team official statement.
“I would like to thank the Alaska organization for the last 16 years of employment,” Trillo said.
He added: “I’m leaving the team in a good place. I’ll always have fond memories especially, the championship we won last year as a team. I’m going to take some time off to spend with my family.”
As for Compton, he is looking forward to this new challenge.
“It has been an honor working with and learning from Coach Luigi Trillo, and I consider him a good friend. While I will miss working with him, I am both excited and challenged by the opportunity to try and replicate the success the Alaska franchise has had over the past 28 years,” said Compton.
“I look forward to working with Mr. Uytengsu, Mr. Bachmann, and all the coaches and players as we continue our pursuit of excellence,” Compton added.