End of an era: Alaska leaves PBA
AFTER years of speculation and tittle-tattle, Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu has made it official on Wednesday.
The Alaska franchise is leaving the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) at the end of the 2021-22 season.
But unlike teams which were about to exit the league, the organization vowed to play with integrity the rest of the way and do whatever it takes to win title No. 15.
Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
SPACE RESERVE FOR ADVERTISEMENT
At the virtual press conference on Wednesday, Uytengsu assured the media that the Aces will not trade their marquee players to other teams.
In the past, squads that were about to leave the league unloaded key players to easily sell the franchise at a cheaper price.
Uytengsu, however, said he intends to keep his team competitive in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.
“We won’t do anything to jeopardize those chances (our chase for 15th title). You’ve known us as a franchise. We’re gonna do the right thing by the franchise, we’re gonna do the right thing by the players. We’re not gonna rig it,” Uytengsu said.
Alaska currently has a 3-2 win-loss record in the season-ending tournament.
Rumors of Alaska leaving the PBA and selling its franchise surfaced as early as nine years ago when FrieslandCampina, a Dutch company, took the majority ownership of the franchise from the Uytengsu family.
The basketball team was not included in the acquisition of the company, but because of the economic pinch in the past two years brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Uytengsu felt it is time to leave Asia’s pioneering professional basketball league.
Alaska burst onto the scene in 1986 at a time when the PBA struggled after the old San Miguel franchise, then carrying the name Magnolia, took a leave of absence after the EDSA Revolution.
Alaska became the sixth member of the league and somehow helped save the PBA from folding up. Alaska was at the forefront when the league arguably enjoyed its peak in the 1990s. It became the decade’s most successful PBA squad under the tutelage of American coach Tim Cone and produced some of the greatest players of all time like Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins and Kenneth Duremdes, among others.
Alaska won a total of 14 PBA championships, including a grand slam in 1996.
In the early years, the team also had the privilege of having three-time MVP Bogs Adornado, the Bruise Brothers Yoyoy Villamin and Ricky Relosa and the high-flying Bong Alvarez.
Uytengsu said the team would abide by the PBA rules, but clarified that he has not sold the franchise to another company yet.
“First of all, there are no immediate buyers at this point in time. I think there remains a possibility that we can sell our franchise to another company if they want to come in at the end of the season,” said Uytengsu.
“If there’s none, the franchise will revert to the PBA and go to the by-laws, then the players will go to a dispersal draft.”
On Thursday, Alaska resumes its campaign in the Governors’ Cup against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the main game at 6 p.m. right after the match between the Meralco Bolts and the NorthPort Batang Pier at 3 p.m.
Alaska, currently coached by former player Jeffrey Cariaso, won its last game on Dec. 22, 2021 against the Blackwater Bossing, 98-75.