Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso offered nothing but high praises for Jvee Casio as the ball club parted ways with one of its pillars after nine years.
The Aces on Tuesday traded the veteran floor general and center Barkley Ebona to Blackwater for Mike Tolomia and a 2022 second-round pick, letting go of the only member of the last squad that won a PBA championship in 2013.
“Jvee, being our most veteran on the team, has always displayed a competitive spirit needed in the nine years he was with Alaska,” the veteran mentor said in a statement a few hours after the deal was approved by the league.
Casio, 35, became part of Alaska prior to the 2012-13 season after being traded by Powerade, the team who picked him first overall in 2011.
And just in his maiden season with the Uytengsu-owned franchise, the Gilas Pilipinas pioneer won his first and lone title when they ruled the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup by sweeping Barangay Ginebra in three games.
He was indeed one of the team’s key figures, becoming instrumental in their next five Finals appearances — the last of which was in the 2018 Governors’ Cup where they bowed to the Magnolia Hotshots in six.
“He has contributed substantially in creating the culture we live by now,” said Cariaso, who took over Alaska’s coaching reins in 2019.
The cager-turned-coach also believes that the La Salle legend will become more motivated with his transfer to Blackwater, where he is expected to provide leadership to a Bossing side raring to end its 19-game losing skid.
“I believe the challenge in this new chapter will motivate him even more.
“I wish him nothing but the best. My sincerest thanks to JVee for everything,” he said.
Cariaso also expressed his gratitude to Ebona, who was actually expected to become one of the Aces’ cornerstones owing to his fine play in his first season in the league last year that saw him vie for top rookie honors.
“Barkley on the other hand has a very promising career ahead.
“Adapting quickly to the PBA will contribute significantly to his future,” he said.
A member of the last Far Eastern University crew that won the UAAP gold medal in 2015, the 6-foot-6 slotman was drafted by Alaska with the fourth pick in 2019 and proved his team right with his outings in the Clark bubble.
At the season’s end, Ebona was named part of the 2020 All-Rookie Team, together with Outstanding Rookie Aaron Black, Renzo Subido, top pick Roosevelt Adams, and fellow Tamaraw Arvin Tolentino.
“Coupled with a good attitude, he is a team player to the utmost with contagious positivity,” Cariaso said.
“Thanks as well to Barkley for being part of the Alaska family.”