Following a series of unsuccessful bids to get an import in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Alaska Aces have stumbled a gem of a reinforcement in NBA veteran Cory Jefferson.
Jefferson, who had stints in the NBA playing for the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns, joined the team at the 11th hour folowing the sudden departure of original import pick Octavius Ellis. Ellis, the cousin of NBA player Monta Ellis, had to leave the country at the last minute to attend to personal matters.
Listed as 6-foot-9 in the US, played for the Nets in the 2014-15 season and averaged 3.7 points per game. He also had a stint with the Phoenix Suns before spending all of 2016 playing in the D-League for the Austin Spurs and Bakersfield Jam.
Previously, Alaska had failed to bring in Rob Dozier, the former Best Import, who is still playing in Japan. Jefferson had a solid debut game for the Aces, powering the squad to an early conference win, despite despite missing the services of key players Vic Manuel, JVee Casio and Dondon Hontiveros. Furthermore, the team has been missing frontliner Noy Baclao as early as last season due to injury.
For head coach Alex Compton, injuries like this will be a big concern for them, but shouldn’t be used as an excuse: “We’ve proven before that players from our team can step up to the challenge in the absence of their teammates…The key here is how the import could perform and I think Cory did a pretty good job for us in his first game.”
Last week, Jefferson notched his second double-double in a row to help the Aces beat Blackwater, 109-95, finishing with 28 points and 14 rebounds, bringing the Aces’ record to 2-0 and finding himself named, Player of the Game.
Another newcomer to the Aces is key acquisition Simon Enciso, who was plucked from Phoenix in a trade involving veteran guard RJ Jazul last month. Like Jefferson, Enciso doesn’t seem to be having much difficulty adjusting his style of play to gel with the Alaska style of play.
“He fits our game,” says Compton. “Pressing, hustling, that’s what Simon does every game. He’s really a great acquisition for us.”
Enciso finished his first game with eight points, six assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes of play.
With the Aces at 2 and 0, the Commisioner’s Cup is off to a promising start.
Image source: alaskaaces.com