We saw the emergence of one team, perhaps creating the dawn of a new era. Veteran players standing out in the final stages of the Commissioner’s Cup and an import who silently but effectively helped his team any way he can.
Alaska Milk – Good to the last drop.
That’s been the case for the Alaska Aces, who was the No1. team from start to finish.
The Aces capped their brilliant campaign with a sweep of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings to capture their 14th title and become the second winningest team in the PBA.
LA Tenorio – The former Ace is now the new king of the backcourt for Barangay Ginebra and the pride of Batangas could never be happier. Acquired by the Kings only this season, Tenorio quickly asserted himself as the team’s lead point guard, helping the ballclub’s rise from a slow start all the way to an incredible run to the Finals.
Tenorio was named as hands down Best Player of the Conference, his first major individual award in the PBA.
Rob Dozier – Silent but effective. He is the epitome of the blue-collar import and the former Miami Heat draftee let his game do the talking. The Memphis native carried his team all the way and in the process emerged as the most outstanding import.
But the individual award was just icing on the cake for Dozier, who cherished the championship more than anything else. It was the first championship ever won by the 6-foot-9 Greek League veteran, but team management is already thinking of bringing back the do-it-all reinforcement at any given opportunity.
Sonny Thoss – The Boss’ value was seen way beyond numbers and the veteran Alaska slotman proved he can be an asset doing the dirty work.
Tasked to guard the once unstoppable Vernon Macklin of Barangay Ginebra, Thoss showed who’s the boss as he shackled Macklin the entire series, holding the former NBA D-League standout below 11 points an outing.
Thoss’ solid presence on both ends of the court enabled him to win the Finals’ Most Valuable Player award.
Game 3 of the Finals – Talking about big hit, the final game of the Commissioner’s Cup proved to be a smashing success, drawing an all-time high 23, 436 fans inside the Big Dome.
The record eclipsed the mark set in the only double header of the semis last May 8. Not only did the PBA set a new milestone in attendance, the league also had a blockbuster rating in the Finals, beating the big shows on the giant networks.
Luigi Trillo – For this young bench tactician, first time is the sweetest. Coaching in just his third conference with the Aces, Trillo was able to make a quick turnaround of the team’s campaign.
After falling a game short of landing in the championship round in just his first conference as full-time head coach in the Philippine Cup, the youthful mentor continued to drill his team hard and the result was a championship in the Commissioner’s Cup.
His way to the Finals didn’t come easy as he needed to get past his former mentor Tim Cone of San Mig Coffee in a tough semifinal series. By getting the monkey off his back, Trillo seized the momentum and carried it all the way to the championship round. His first PBA championship erased the stigma of his previous Finals setbacks as coach of Cebuana Lhuillier in the PBL and the PBA D-League.
Vernon Macklin – He was his team’s missing link in the championship round and the once dominant import found it more difficult going up against the defensive-minded Aces.
An immovable force inside the shaded lane from the elimination round all the way to the semifinals, Macklin was slowed down both by injury and a platoon of Aces, with Thoss, Nic Belasco, Gabby Espinas and Dozier ganging up on him.
Kerby Raymundo – A big factor in the playoffs, his game was somewhat grounded by the airtight defense of the Aces. Averaging in double figures in the semifinal round, the 6-foot-6 pride of Letran could only churn up 7.66 points per game in the championship round at a time when his production was so much needed with Macklin hobbled by injury.
Healthy Mark Caguioa – The heart and soul of the Kings showed up in all the three games of the squad in the Finals. Although his presence was a big inspiration, the Aces continued with the devastation, pouncing on “The Spark’s” lack of mobility, again due to injury.
Caguioa was good for 5.33 points a night in the three games of the Finals, but proved to be a liability on defense as he was still on the final stage of recuperation from a knee injury, an opportunity seized by the Aces.