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Amid uncertainty, Alaska opens PBA season with flurry

Coach Jeffrey Cariaso can now heave a sigh of relief after Alaska posted the largest season opening win in 22 years. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Coach Jeffrey Cariaso admitted on Friday that he was wary of how Alaska would perform in its PBA season opener against Blackwater.

After all, all the 12 teams were relegated to practicing among themselves during the offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Aces' game against the Bossing was the first time since last year that they got to play against someone else.

"To be honest with you, I couldn't sleep last night because, honestly, the uncertainty of how we're gonna look tonight," Cariaso said. "It's hard to gauge your team--and I think all the coaches feel this way--when you don't have this opportunity to play against anyone else except yourselves."

The struggles were evident during the first half when Alaska committed nine turnovers, six in the first quarter, and let Simon Enciso lead the way for Blackwater in forcing a 39-all halftime deadlock.

Come the second half, however, the Aces took over, outscoring the Bossing, 64-38, behind a solid team effort that saw them only conceding two errors the rest of the way and giving out 28 assists in total.

"My challenge to the guys is really to share the ball in offense and defend the best way we can," Cariaso shared his game plan, which was apparently followed properly.

The result: a 103-77 Alaska win that, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon, is the most lopsided win to open the season since Mobiline, now known as TNT, romped the then returning Tanduay franchise also by 26 points, 90-64, in the opening game of the 1999 season.

[Related Story: Alaska clamps Blackwater to start PBA season]

"We're happy for this first win," Cariaso continued.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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