MANILA, Philippines – Multiple Philippine basketball stars have owed a lot to the Alaska Aces for molding their legacies to what they are today.
Legends like Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Kenneth Duremdes, and Sean Chambers come to mind, as well as current household names like Calvin Abueva and LA Tenorio.
Among these names with numerous accolades attached to them, legendary head coach Tim Cone still stands out with one of the most decorated, if not the most decorated, resumes in Philippine hoops history.
As such, the current Barangay Ginebra tactician has been one of the people most affected by the shocking retirement announcement of the Alaska franchise on Wednesday, February 16.
“I’m saddened by the news of Alaska’s exit from the PBA, but looking back, I’m extremely proud of my time (23 years) with Alaska where I made many lifetime friends among the players and staff,” Cone said in a text message to the media.
“My coaching career grew up under the stewardship and friendship of Mr. [Wilfred] Uytengsu, and I’m grateful for his mentoring. I am who I am as a coach and as a person because of that,” he continued.
In his 23-year career at the helm of the Alaska engine, the now 64-year-old coach won 13 of his record-setting 23 PBA titles, including one of his two Grand Slams in 1996.
Leading a well-oiled machine featuring Chambers, Abarrientos, Lastimosa, Duremdes, and Bong Hawkins, Cone’s coaching career reached stratospheric heights, and he was, by all accounts, already a legend by the time he left the franchise in 2011.
Even though he has long moved on from his involvement with the Aces, Cone admitted that he will always be proud of his time there. Prior to his message, multiple players and sports personalities have also shared their thoughts on Alaska’s exit.
“Needless to say, it’s an end of an era. Alaska and those that led it will be sorely missed. It was a proud franchise with great successes and I was fortunate to be a part of its legacy and culture,” he continued.
“Going forward now without Alaska in the league will seem unnatural, and I believe it will mark a time of great transition for the PBA.”
So far, the Aces have not found a buyer to start a new team without the Alaska name on it, and its current players are likely headed for a dispersal draft just like when Shell disbanded in 2005.
But even as the PBA moves toward a future without the Alaska Aces, the franchise’s greatest stars like Cone remain heavily involved, spreading the winning culture they have carried on. – Rappler.com