Sep 10, 2020

Barkley gets guidance from Alaska's past and present

AT Alaska, rookie Barkley Ebona is learning a lot from both the past and the present.

Veteran big man Sonny Thoss and star forward Vic Manuel have been taken to task of taking the Cebuano freshman under their wings.

Ebona is the Aces' first round pick in last year's draft and being groomed to help fortify the team's frontcourt especially with the uncertainty of whether Thoss will still play for the franchise once the PBA season resumes.

"Si Kuya Vic Manuel and Kuya Sonny Thoss, gina-guide nila ako kasi pare-parehas kaming big man na tatlo," said the 22-year-old product of Far Eastern University.

"Silang dalawa, gina-guide nila ako sa ilalim, sa mga laruan sa ilalim," added Ebona.

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Thoss of course, has been the long-time resident big man of Alaska, where he began his pro career as the team's first round pick in the 2004 draft. He won three championships with the franchise, was a two-time member of the Mythical First Team, and a 12-time All-Star.

The 38-year-old Fil-German has been asked by management to defer retirement this season to play one more time in the Philippine Cup before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Thoss' status remains indefinite if ever the league gets to restart the season later this year.

Manuel, meanwhile, found a niche with the Aces since coming on board in 2014 following a trade for Aldrech Ramos.

Though he has yet to win a title with the team, the 6-foot-4 native of Licab, Nueva Ecija is now considered one of the main forces for the Aces.

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But while he gets guidance from both Manuel and Thoss, Ebona's PBA idols belong to other teams.

"Si Kuya Marc Pingris at Kuya Arwind Santos. Sila ang mga hinahangaan ko sa PBA," said Ebona of the veteran big men from Magnolia and San Miguel Beer, respectively.

"Si Kuya Marc, grabe kasi yung puso niya na maglaro, grabe yung hustle niya," added the Alaska rookie. "Si Kuya Arwind ganun din. Hindi naman siya kalakihan, pero kaya niyang sumabay sa mga big man sa PBA."

No wonder, playing against the two is among the moments he's looking forward to in his rookie year.

"Sila talaga yung gusto kong makalaro para makita ko kung hanggang saan na ba ako, kung kaya ko na bang sumabay sa kanilang dalawa," said Ebona, who holds a bachelor's degree in secondary education, major in sports and recreational management. (RG)