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Louie Alas "pressured but excited" in his head coaching return as Phoenix gaffer

Louie Alas vows to bring Phoenix to the finals before his contract ends. PBA Media Bureau
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--For the first time in 16 years, Louie Alas is a PBA head coach again.

Alas replaced Ariel Vanguardia as Phoenix's gaffer, and he will inherit a young core with a good future awaiting.

“Pressured but excited,” Alas told a couple of reporters during the PBA Draft at the Robinson's Place Manila atrium about how he looks forward to his new coaching stint.

He later bared that the Fuel Masters already wooed him last season.

“Last year pa nila ako kinausap, pero since I'm committed with Coach Alex [Compton], I declined it. Sabi ko, ‘Siguro next time,’" he continued.

But he can't simply pass up on the offer.

"Medyo matino yung opportunity na yun, so hinintay ko na rin. Wala akong second thought na tinanggap ko,” Alas quipped. “I spoke with Coach Alex. Sabi ko, ‘Coach, may offer sa akin ang Phoenix. I'm very interested.’ Sabi nya, “Coach sa akin wala kang problema, but you have to ask permission from GM [Dickie Bachmann]. Pinayagan naman ako. Ayun nag-roll yung negotiation.”

A five-time champion coach, thrice with NCAA squad Letran and twice in the pros, Alas said that he has become a different coach during the 2000's.

“I guess yung previous years ko sa Talk ‘n Text at sa amateur tapos yung five years ko with Coach Alex, malaki ang naitulong sa akin. Marami na akong adjustments na pwedeng gawin,” he further said.

During the draft, Phoenix nabbed Jason Perkins with the fourth pick, and Alas explained, “[He is] very aggressive. Hindi [siya] nag-gi-give up sa mga situation.”

For this upcoming season, Alas looks forward to seeing the Fuel Masters in the Top 2 after the elimination rounds of each conference.

“Sana mag improve yong win slate natin at makuha natin ang twice-to-beat advantage para at least one foot in the semis na,” he said.

For him, the key to getting there is defense.

“[I want players who are] willing to play 48 minutes of hard defensive basketball. Yan ang gusto kong identity [namin],” Alas said.

Phoenix's hopes also pin on sophomore gunner Matt Wright.

“Matthew Wright is a perimeter guy. I'll try to help him up. Bigyan ng multiple screens. Lahat ng pwede naming matulong sa kanya, We're going to give them to him," Alas vowed.

Alas signed a three-year deal as head coach, and he hopes to get his third pro basketball title--and first in the PBA--before his initial foray with the Fuel Masters is done.

“Bago matapos yung third year ko dapat andun na kami [sa championship],” he bared his long-term plan.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno