Philippine basketball

What will happen to Alaska players as Aces bid PBA goodbye?

Delfin Dioquino

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What will happen to Alaska players as Aces bid PBA goodbye?

LAST DANCE. The ongoing Governors' Cup will be the Alaska Aces' last conference in the PBA.

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Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu says they are open to selling the franchise to a new company seeking to enter the PBA, which will be reduced to 11 teams following the Aces' exit

MANILA, Philippines – Get absorbed by a new PBA team or go through a dispersal draft.

Those are the options that await Alaska players after the Aces announced on Wednesday, February 16, that they will be leaving the league at the end of the ongoing Governors’ Cup.

Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu said they are open to selling the franchise to a new company seeking to enter the PBA, which will be reduced to 11 teams following the Aces’ exit.

“There are no immediate buyers at this point in time but it remains a possibility that we can sell our team, our franchise to another company if they want to come in at the end of the season,” Uytengsu said.

“If there is not a buyer at that time, the franchise will revert to the PBA, and pursuant to the bylaws of the PBA, then the players will go into a dispersal draft.”

Among the top Alaska players other PBA teams would want to get their hands on in a potential dispersal draft include the likes of Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, Mike DiGregorio, Maverick Ahanmisi, and Robbie Herndon.

The Aces also have a bevy of promising young prospects in Allyn Bulanadi, RK Ilagan, Ben Adamos, Alec Stockton, Taylor Browne, and Jaycee Marcelino.

But if it were up to Uytengsu, he would rather have a new company buy the Alaska franchise to keep the team together.

“Of course, whoever buys the franchise would want to make their mark on it,” Uytengsu said.

“But we have a great coaching staff. I think we have a very competitive team. If someone were to come in, they have the whole package right away.”

Uytengsu added prospective buyers do not have to start from scratch, unlike what the Aces did when they joined the PBA in 1986.

“For a company that is entertaining this, it doesn’t get any better.”

Time to move on

Rumors of the team parting ways with the PBA started when Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina bought out the controlling shares of the Alaska Milk Corporation in 2012.

When Alaska acquired a PBA franchise nearly four decades ago, Uytengsu said the company believed sports marketing was a “very useful and important tool” in building its brand.

True enough, Alaska became a household name and the Aces dominated the 1990s, winning nine PBA championships during the decade, including a rare Grand Slam in 1996.

Uytengsu, though, said FrieslandCampina does not see it the same way as Alaska.

“The new group that comes in probably sees it a little bit differently and doesn’t necessarily see the marketing value the way we did,” Uytengsu said. “That’s a perfectly understandable approach.”

“I think the big difference is that in the case of Alaska, I personally took a key hand in it and it’s not something that you just pick. It’s not like producing another TV commercial. We put a lot of heart and soul, and I think that, combined with some very talented, hardworking people, helped us be successful.”

“That’s not necessarily the case moving forward, because I’m not going to be there all the time to do that and the company wants to redirect its efforts to focus on their mission statement, and that’s for Alaska to be the leading providers of affordable nutrition to millions of Filipinos.”

Despite bidding the PBA goodbye, Uytengsu said he is honored to have been part of the league, where Alaska is tied with Magnolia as the second-winningest franchise after capturing a total of 14 titles.

“I’ve appreciated my partnership with the PBA and having served the PBA to help make it a better organization,” Uytengsu said while fighting back tears.

“As I say, all good things come to an end, and at the end of this season, it will be our 35th and final season in the PBA.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.