Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso felt thrilled to see Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan share the court in their win versus Terrafirma in PBA Governors’ Cup action.
It was a throwback of sorts at the SMART Araneta Coliseum on Saturday as the two ran it back just like their San Sebastian days. Back then, they formed one of the best offensive combos in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“We all know that they played together in college, ‘no. So you saw a glimpse of that tonight,” said the seasoned mentor moments after the Aces’ 102-97 victory.
“I’m really excited for these two, so I’m really happy.”
Looking back, Bulanadi was the Aces’ pick in the special Gilas draft in 2019. Then they took Ilagan in the third round of the proceedings last March.
The two finally reunited when Bulanadi joined the ball club after the end of his deal with the national team program last January. And Cariaso was left in awe once he saw how the young guns work together.
“When they’re on the court, they work hard, they give their best, and you can see how close they are. You can see that camaraderie that they have regardless of Allyn being with us for two weeks,” he offered. “Hindi siya nawawala.”
And that was evident against the Dyip. The two saw action together for quite a while during the fourth quarter. They helped out Jeron Teng and the Aces in the furious rally from a 20-point deficit in the previous frame.
Bulanadi finished with 10 points on three triples, on top of three rebounds, two assists, and a block. Ilagan added four markers, four boards, and two dimes.
“I’m really happy that they were able to play together at the pro level because like I said, they’re so familiar with each other,” said Cariaso.
But aside from those two, the rest of the bench guys also earned plaudits from Cariaso, particularly another rookie in Alec Stockton.
The Far Eastern University product scored four points, and was part of the closing unit with Teng, Olu Ashaolu, Abu Tratter, and Maverick Ahanmisi.
“Alec is a fighter. Hindi ‘yun nawawala sa kanya,” said Cariaso. “He’s always been that tough, hard-nosed player. He’s really tough mentally.
“Bihira ‘yun sa young player where you come in mentally strong, mentally tough. And he brings that,” added the former cager turned coach.
“I like the way those three played tonight.”
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