MANILA, Philippines – The looming retirement of the Alaska Aces franchise from the PBA has sent shockwaves across the Philippine sports scene.
Fans, players, hoop legends, and other personalities have all been rocked with the saddening development, as expected from a franchise with a 35-year history, and 14 championships scattered across its lifespan.
But of course, no one has been affected with the announcement more than the current group of players, coaches, and staff making up today’s Aces team.
As such, Alaska head coach Jeffrey Cariaso has nothing but admiration for the people still working hard with him amid this difficult time, from the top star players down to the support staff.
“I think the guys handled it like champs. I think they handled it professionally,” he said after a gutsy 80-74 win over Rain or Shine on Thursday, February 17.
“The anxiety about the future will not go away, but I think, mentally, as the days move forward, they’ll be better.”
Cariaso, himself a former player and a part of the 1996 Grand Slam team, admitted that he knew about the impending announcement a few days in advance, which helped him prepare how to move forward and motivate the team once the planned franchise retirement goes public.
So far, the 12-time PBA champion has felt the added motivation coming from his players, especially after team owner Wilfred Uytengsu declared that they are still gunning for the franchise’s 15th championship in their final PBA conference.
“Part of my talk yesterday was just talking to them about us staying in the moment, and us still having this opportunity to win that 15th championship,” Cariaso continued.
“Why can’t we go out with a bang? Why can’t we go out and strive for this last one before we go? Why not? Of course it’s not going to be easy. We understand the hard work that’s ahead of us, but again, it’s our last chance together. Why not go out and do it?”
Including Thursday night’s win, the final iteration of the Aces are currently sitting with a 4-2 record in the ongoing Governors’ Cup in joint third place with Phoenix Super LPG.
Led by a talented core of Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, Mike DiGregorio, Robbie Herndon, Maverick Ahanmisi, and import Olu Ashaolu, Alaska has started a two-game winning streak, and is looking to make it three straight on Saturday, February 19, 4 pm, against the Terrafirma Dyip.
Why not, indeed? – Rappler.com