Cebuana Lhuiller Gems hope to nail crown jewel
MANILA, Philippines—After a disappointing season, the pressure is even higher for Cebuana Lhuiller this 2012 PBA D-League Foundation Cup conference.
And for head coach Luigi Trillo, it all starts with defense.
“I always emphasize to them the importance of defense,” said Trillo after the Gems’ opener win over Boracay Rum last week.
“We have to earn the respect of the league again.”
Vic Manuel, the reigning best player of the conference, wears a target on his back and the Gems are hoping improved team defense will ease the pressure on the guy to score.“
“It’s hard for Vic [Manuel] as an MVP because he’s a marked man. He’s always the target of other teams,” said Trillo.
“The good thing with him was he started out great in the defense, and I was so proud since we already know he’s good in offense.”
And maybe that empahsis on defense would finally propel Cebuana Lhuiller to that gem of a title in the PBA D-League.
The Gems’ weakness were exposed as they failed to reach the finals of the Aspirants Cup last January, bumping into a gritty Freego Jeans, which was composed mostly of Adamson players.
A errant team averaging 22 turnovers in the semifinals series, Cebuana struggled to contain Freego Jeans’ scorers and break off the consistency of an intact club.
But during the off-season, the Gems hardly took any break and addressed all the issues that pestered them the last time out.
The loss of the backcourt tandem Jai Reyes and Terrence Romeo was a big blow—but the addition of Lester Alvarez, Janus Lozada, Bacon Austria and Jeckster Apinan would be more than enough to fill that gap.
Alvarez, one of last year’s leading MVP candidates, would be a fitting replacement for Romeo when it comes to scoring.
The added bonus is Alvarez has better court vision.
“I can’t say enough about Lester [Alvarez], he’s in a different level in the tune up and practice,” said Trillo. “It’s nice that we got them.”
Lozada also provides the scoring punch with the tenacity of defense while Austria’s adds composure he got from a winning program.
“Bacon [Austria] is a thinking player, without any doubt I grabbed him,” said Trillo.“
“We got smaller, they’re very smart players—but when it comes to athleticism and running, it’s an issue since I also lost a lot of players.
The Gems, though, still has the explosive Kevin Alas, and PBA draftees Pari Llagas and Marvin Hayes.
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