By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
LAST WEEK the Alaska Aces was a party to a deal that sent their All-Star guard Chris Banchero to the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, a deal that Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso described as something they had to do in their bid to return to heightened competitiveness in the Philippine Basketball Association.
After spending five years with the milk masters, Mr. Banchero, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 rookie draft, saw himself on the move to the Hotshots in exchange for forwards Robbie Herndon and Rodney Brondial.
The trade papers were sent to the league office late last week and were eventually approved on Sunday.
“It’s always hard to let go of a player, regardless of their stats. Letting go of someone or moving someone is always difficult,” said Mr. Cariaso following their 106-99 victory over the Northport Batang Pier on Sunday when asked by media about the Banchero trade.
He went on to say that Mr. Banchero was a big part of what the Aces had accomplish of late, including a finals appearance in last season’s Governors’ Cup, but felt that the pieces they were getting in return for him would help them in the direction they want to take as a team.
“Chris Banchero is a really good player. He’s done a lot for us here at Alaska. But I really feel that this trade is going to help. With the part we are getting in return I think they will fit perfectly. And to get something, you always have to give up something,” said Mr. Cariaso, who replaced long-time coach Alex Compton during the in-between conference break.
The Alaska coach said that Mr. Herndon, while did not get much playing time with the Hotshots, would help with his shooting and high basketball IQ.
“Herndon is very smart player, an IQ player. He knows his spots and does not force things. He knows his role. And he’s a good shooter. We’ve seen that in the All-Filipino, though maybe not so much the last couple of conferences because he played limited minutes,” he said.
For Mr. Brondial, his energy and no-nonsense approach on doing his role would be a boon to the Aces, Mr. Cariaso said.
“Rodney is that role player that we need, that banger, that extra banger that we need; an extra big guy who does not care who his opponent is. He will do his best to try to defend. And he has good hands and can finish plays,” said the Alaska coach.
Mr. Cariaso also allayed fears of his team struggling with its guard play with Mr. Banchero now gone, saying that they are still covered with veteran JVee Casio and young guns Maverick Ahanmisi, Simon Enciso and Abel Galliguez still around.
The Banchero trade was the latest that Alaska had made, following those that sent Carl Bryan Cruz to the Blackwater Elite for rookie Abu Tratter and Ping Exciminiano to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for Mr. Ahanmisi prior to the start of the ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup.
Alaska (3-6) next plays against the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters on Nov. 13 where new acquisitions Herndon and Brondial are expected to make their debut.