Alas wants Phoenix to be defense-oriented

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Known for being a defensive-minded coach, Phoenix newly appointed head coach Louie Alas is ready to turn the Fuel Masters to a defense-oriented team in the upcoming Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43.

Alas, who replaced former Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia last week before the rookie draft, is planning to employ an effective defensive game plan to stop powerhouse teams like San Miguel Beer, back-to-back Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT KaTropa.

“As what I’ve told them, I want players who are very willing to play for 48 minutes of defensive basketball and that will be our identity starting this coming season,” Alas, who spent the last five years as Alaska assistant coach, told The Manila Times in an interview.

“Our offense will come if we play good defense,” said the former Letran coach.

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The multi-titled National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion coach said stopping teams with bigger players like June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Greg Slaughter of Ginebra are definitely their priority next season.

“If we’re going to stop the teams which have the likes of June Mar (Fajardo) and other big men, I think there is a strong possibility to stop the other teams,” added Alas, who coached first in the PBA for TNT in the 2000 to 2001 seasons before returning to the NCAA to coach Letran the following year.

In Sunday’s rookie draft, Alas chose former De La Salle University big man Jason Perkins as the Fuel Masters’ fourth overall pick and former Emilio Aguinaldo College standout Sydney Onwubere as eighth pick in the first round. Onwubere, according to Alas, was dealt to TNT for 11th pick Jon Jon Gabriel.

Alas also picked up Jayson Grimaldo, Wilson Baltazar, Dan Sara and JK Casino in the rookie draft, but all these rookies will still be evaluated at the start of their practice on Monday. Prior to the draft, he said they were looking for a big man and shooter to complete their line-up.

“If he (Perkins) is going to follow my instructions wisely, I think he will be a big help to our team.”

Phoenix’s mainstays Matthew Wright, JC Intal, RJ Jazul, Jeff Chan, Joseph Eriobu and Willie Wilson are also expected to thrive under Alas’ system.

Alas is hoping to send Phoenix to its first semifinals in the upcoming Season 43 Philippine Cup.

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