PBA: In final conference, Alaska eyes 15th championship

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2022 03:01 PM

The Alaska Aces will be going for a 15th championship in their final conference in the PBA. PBA Media Bureau.
The Alaska Aces will be going for a 15th championship in their final conference in the PBA. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- The Alaska Aces may be leaving the PBA at the end of the Governors' Cup, but they have no plans of going quietly.

Team owner Fred Uytengsu said the Aces will be going all out in pursuit of a 15th PBA championship in what will be their final conference in the league.

"I told the team today, we still have one more conference to get our 15th ring. So, I am not throwing in the towel yet," Uytengsu said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Alaska announced earlier in the day that they will "retire" from the PBA, after 35 seasons in the league which saw them win 14 titles -- including the Grand Slam in the 1996 season.

The Aces have not won a PBA title since the 2013 Commissioner's Cup, but Uytengsu is hopeful that they can exit the PBA on the highest of notes. He is counting on head coach Jeff Cariaso to lead the way for the team in their quest for ring No. 15.

"Jeff is a true professional, and he said, 'Okay, now we gotta do it, we're gonna give it our best shot. We got six more games to play, and we wanna finish in the top four and have that twice-to-beat advantage'," said Uytengsu, when asked of Cariaso's reaction to the news.

"You know, Jeff is really cut from that Alaska cloth, and he knows he's got a job to do, and he'll do it 'til the very end," he added. "And he wants to be a championship coach, so he wants to help us win ring No. 15."

In line with this, Uytengsu also guaranteed that they will not trade their key players during the course of the conference.

It can be recalled that when the Shell franchise disbanded in 2005, it traded some of its key players away before the rest were taken by other teams in a dispersal draft. Incidentally, two of their players -- Tony dela Cruz and Rich Alvarez -- were acquired by Alaska.

"I have no intention of dismantling the team before the end of the conference. I think every player on our team would like to win a championship ring in their last dance," Uytengsu stressed. "We're not going to do anything to jeopardize those chances."

"You’ve known us as a franchise. We’re going to do the right thing. We're gonna do the right thing by the franchise, we're gonna do the right thing by the players," he added.

Alaska will be playing for the first time since the announcement on Thursday, when they take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. 

They currently have a 3-2 win-loss record in the tournament. 

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