Alaska Aces (PBA)

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Alaska Aces
2014–15 Alaska Aces season
Alaska Aces logo
Joined PBA 1986
History Alaska Milk Kings
1986-1987
Hills Bros. Coffee Kings
1987-1988
Alaska Air Force
1988–1991
Alaska Milkmen
1991–2000
Alaska Aces
2000–Present
Team colors Red, Black, and White
              
Owner(s) Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr.
Board governor Dickie Bachmann
Company Alaska Milk Corporation
Head coach United States Alex Compton
Championships 14 championships

1991 Third Conference
1994 Governors
1995 Governors
1996 All-Filipino
1996 Commissioner's
1996 Governors
1997 Governors
1998 All-Filipino
1998 Commissioner's
2000 All-Filipino
2003 Invitational
2007 Fiesta
2010 Fiesta
2013 Commissioner's

Retired numbers 6 (6, 14, 16, 20, 22, 33)
Uniforms
Kit body alaska-2012 l.png
Light uniform jersey
Kit shorts alaska-2012 l.png
Team colours
Light uniform
Kit body alaska-2012 d.png
Dark uniform jersey
Kit shorts alaska-2012 d.png
Team colours
Dark uniform

The Alaska Aces is a professional basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association since 1986 under the ownership of the Alaska Milk Corporation and the owner of 14 PBA championships with the 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup as their latest. They are one of the most popular teams in the league and the Philippines.

The Aces won nine PBA championships in the 1990s, including a rare grand slam (winning three championships in one season) during the 1996 season, joining the Crispa Redmanizers (1976, 1983) and the San Miguel Beermen (1989) as one of only three franchises to achieve the feat.

History[edit]

1986: First season[edit]

After the temporary departure of the Magnolia team prior to the start of the 1986 season, the league reduced to only five teams. Alaska Milk Corporation of American owner Wilfred Uytengsu was accepted as the league's sixth team before the start of the 1986 season in April. Alaska acquired several holdovers from the old Magnolia team (Marte Saldana, Rudy Distrito and Biboy Ravanes among others) for their inaugural campaign.

Alaska's imports for the 1986 Reinforced Conference were former Utah Jazz Jerry Lee Eaves and former Toyota import Donnie Ray Koonce.

In its very first conference, Alaska would place fourth behind Tanduay, Great Taste, and Ginebra.

Norman Black stayed with Alaska as its import for the Open Conference teaming up with an import by the name of Mike Morrison. [1]

A list of the 1986 Alaska lineup is listed on this [2].

  • Dennis Abbatuan
  • Teodocio 'Teddy' Alfarero †
  • Alejo 'Pongkee' Alolor
  • Noli Banate
  • Reynaldo 'Rey' Cuenco †
  • Rudy Distrito
  • Frankie Lim
  • Reynaldo Ramos Jr.
  • Ricardo 'Ricky' Relosa
  • Marte Saldaña
  • Arnulfo 'Arnie' Tuadles †
  • Ludovico 'Naning' Valenciano
  • Norman Black
  • Donnie Ray Koonce
  • Jerry Lee Eaves
  • Keith Morrison

1987: Hills Bros. Coffee Kings[edit]

In 1987, Alaska Milk changed its name to the Hills Bros. Coffee Kings. After Manila Beer's disbandment, the Coffee Kings acquired Yoyoy Villamin to form a bruising tandem with Ricky Relosa, known as the "Bruise Brothers".

They also had former Crispa shooter William "Bogs" Adornado to banner the team, although the former three-time MVP was already slowing down at the time.

The All-Filipino saw the team finally jelling, with the emergence of the "Bruise Brothers" combination of Villamin and Relosa. It entered the Finals, where it got swept 3-0 by Great Taste Coffee. Despite the sweep, it was a brutal, physical Finals series with Villamin and Relosa being matched up against Great Taste's "Royal Brothers" Abe King and "The Sultan of Swat" Philip Cezar.

By virtue of its runner-up finish, Hills Bros. participated in the Coca Cola PBA-IBA World Challenge Cup. They ended up last in the four team tourney behind the Champion IBA selection Los Angeles Cougars (which had future Alaska import Sean Chambers in its line-up), Great Taste Instant Milk and San Miguel. The Coffee Kings were paraded by imports Alex Adams and Mckinley Singleton.

Reinforced Conference saw Hills Bros. parading a sweet-shooting import by the name of Jose Slaughter. On October 18, 1987 in a game which Hills Bros. won over Great Taste 129-115, Slaughter scored 79 points, the most ever scored by an Alaska/Hills Bros. player in a game. He also scored 14 three point field goals.

The team also made the Finals, losing however to the Bobby Parks-reinforced San Miguel Beermen 4-1.

By the end of the year, Villamin and Relosa would be named the All-Defensive team. Villamin would also be named most improved player, the same award won by Ricky Relosa the year before. Nat Canson and former Tanduay bench tactician Turo Valenzona were the team's head coach during the '87 campaign.

After that year, Adornado announced his retirement from the league, his jersey no. 33 was retired and was hung in the rafters of the ULTRA during the opening of the 1988 season. He was the first player in Alaska/Hills Bros franchise to have his number retired and was later named as the team's coach. [3]

1988–1990: Alaska Air Force[edit]

In 1988, the team reverted to the Alaska name with the Air Force moniker. Some believe that the nickname was a sort of Uytengsu's support for the US soldiers that were based in Olongapo at that time.

The Air Force finished third place in both the Open and All-Filipino Conferences, In the PBA/IBA cup that year, Alaska, parade by imports Willie Bland and Eddie Cox, lost to Anejo-with Bobby Parks on loan from Shell in the Finals. Controversy then surrounds their high-flying import Willie Bland during the season-ending Reinforced Conference with Bogs Adornado now coach of Alaska, replacing Turo Valenzona. Bland was found to have deliberately throwing away games in favor of their opponents, just the same was given his walking papers.

Before the 1989 season, Alaska acquired three players in what many believed as the richest draft in league history. Paul "Bong" Alvarez, Ric-Ric Marata, and Elmer "Boy" Cabahug were taken from the draft. Same as the year before, Alaska won two third place trophies in the Open and Reinforced Conferences with import Sean Chambers.

1991–2000: Alaska Milkmen[edit]

Alaska Milkmen logo from 1991 to 2000

Arrival of Tim Cone[edit]

In 1989, American Earl Timothy Cone became the new coach of the Air Force after Adornado was fired during the season (owner Uytensu coached a won ballgame for the team). The year also saw the debut of Sean Chambers as Alaska's import.

In 1990, Alaska advanced in the finals of the Third Conference against a young Purefoods team. Their imports then were Carlos Clark and Chambers. After a 2-0 lead in the Best-of-five series, Alaska suffered one of the biggest collapses in league history as Purefoods won the next three games to win the title. The team had the top pick in the draft and grabbed Alex Araneta out of Ateneo. But in later years, Araneta was considered a bust and was out of the league by 1997.

In 1991, Eugene Quilban joined Alaska from the rookie draft to bolster the Alaska squad. Jojo Lastimosa was acquired after being taken from Purefoods in a trade with Elmer Cabahug. After a third-place showing in the All-Filipino, they returned to the finals of the Third Conference against crowd-favorite Ginebra San Miguel and former Laker Wes Matthews. Alvarez, Lastimosa, and their teammates dominated the series that saw them winning it, 3 games to 1 for their first title in team history.

Alvarez was then eased out of the team when his one-on-one style didn't suit the new offensive scheme being enforced by Tim Cone – the triangle offense. Quilban later left Alaska for 7-Up, in which he led the team to a finals loss to Swift. [4]

Alaska managed one third-place finish in 1992. In the 1993 draft, the Milkmen drafted Far Eastern University point guard Johnny Abarrientos, an energetic and exciting little man who can drive to the basket against taller opponents. The Milkmen never won a trophy during their '93 campaign.

In 1994, Alaska acquired Bong "The Hawk" Hawkins from Sta. Lucia which helped him resurrect his career. Alaska lost to Purefoods in the Commissioner's Cup Finals. In the Governor's Cup, Alaska defeated Swift to win their third PBA title with Abarrientos, Lastimosa, Hawkins, and import Sean Chambers leading the team.

In 1995, Alaska got Jeffrey Cariaso from the draft and added center Edward Juinio to the team. Alaska made it to the Finals of all conferences of 1995. In the All-Filipino, they lost a seven-game tussle against Sunkist. In the rematch, the Ronnie Grandison-led Juicers once again powered the Derrick Hamilton-led Alaska to win the Commissioner's Cup crown. But in the Governor's Cup, the Milkmen overcame a 2-3 deficit to defeat San Miguel in seven games with a strong performance by Lastimosa. Jeffrey Cariaso won Rookie of the Year honors at the end of this year.

1996 Grand Slam[edit]

In the All-Filipino Conference, the Milkmen defeated the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs team of Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codiñera in five games. In the series-clincher, Jeffrey Cariaso was fouled in the final second on an inbound play by Bong "The Raven" Ravena, Purefood's baseline specialist at that time. Cariaso sank both free-throws to seal Alaska's first title of the year.

Their toughest championship series was in the Commissioner's Cup Finals against a tough Formula Shell team of Benjie Paras, Victor Pablo, and import Kenny Redfield. After six grueling games, the Milkmen captured the seventh and final game to win their fifth title in franchise history with Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa and Bong Hawkins leading the team alongside import Sean Chambers, who came in to replace Derrick Hamilton midway through the conference.

Chambers returned for Alaska in the Governor's Cup and for the eighth straight time since 1994, Alaska was back in the Finals against crowd-favorite Ginebra San Miguel who ousted sister team San Miguel in the semis. But it was a one-sided affair as the Milkmen went to win the first three games of the series before defeating Ginebra in Game five to capture the feat.

By season's end, Hawkins, Lastimosa, and Cariaso were included in the Mythical team while Abarrientos became the smallest man in PBA history to capture the coveted Most Valuable Player award.

Post-grand slam[edit]

Alaska suffered one of the biggest losses prior to the 1997 season when Jeffrey Cariaso signed with new PBA franchise, Mobiline Phone Pals. The Milkmen failed to enter the semis of the All-Filipino Cup.

In the Commissioner's Cup, the first ten games of the tournament was bannered by former Ginebra import Sylvester Gray. He was eventually replaced by Kevin Holland and the Milkmen advanced to the Finals against Gordon's Gin Boars. The Boars took a 3-0 series lead but Alaska managed to win the next two games to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, Gordon's won Game Six as Alaska fell short again.

In the Governor's Cup, they acquired veteran center Jack "The Ripper" Tanuan and the high-flying Kenneth Duremdes in exchange for Dwight Lago and Boyet Fernandez from Pop Cola. The 24-year-old Duremdes became a perfect replacement for Cariaso and a perfect running mate for Lastimosa and Abarrientos. Alaska, with Chambers once again as import, defeated Purefoods to win the title in five games.

In 1998, Alaska traded for former San Sebastian Star and slasher, Rodney Santos from the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs. Alaska then dominated the All-Filipino Cup and took on San Miguel in the finals. The Beermen led 3-2 after a strong showing by Nelson Asaytono in game five. But, Alaska won the next two games to capture another title.

Dreadlock-sporting Devin Davis powered Alaska in the Commissioner's Cup, winning Best Import honors. The team advanced to the finals in a rematch against the Beermen. Duremdes was named as the Best Player of the Conference while defeating San Miguel in six games for their ninth title despite losing Bong Hawkins to a season-ending injury.

Already, several people were hyping a possible 'Grand Slam II' for the team. But, with the 1998 Asian Games set in December and Cone was named head coach, he tapped Abarrientos, Duremdes, and Lastimosa to lead the Philippine team.

Assistants Jun Reyes and Dickey Bachmann took over for Alaska. But despite a strong showing from the slasher Rodney Santos and their resident shooter, Rhoel Gomez, the Milkmen failed to enter the semis of both the special 1998 PBA Centennial Cup and the season-ending Governor's Cup.

Duremdes was named the Most Valuable Player at the end of the year, the second Alaska Milkman to win the coveted individual award.

With the arrival of some talented Filipino-American cagers in the league, the Milkmen opted to stick with the same core for the 1999 season. In the All-Filipino, the Milkmen was eliminated by expansion team Tanduay in the semis.

In the Commissioner's Cup, Devin Davis made his return to the team, but the young San Miguel team of Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle conspired with their import, Terquin Mott, to eliminate the Aces in five games. They finished third in the tournament.

Alaska advanced to the Finals of the Governor's Cup with Chambers at the helm but San Miguel, led by Lamont "The Helicopter" Strothers, defeated the Milkmen in six games despite Alaska getting an early 2-1 series lead.

In 2000, Jojo Lastimosa was traded to Pop Cola as part of the team's future plan to rebuild. Alaska won their 10th PBA title at the expense of Purefoods in the All-Filipino Conference. Purefoods won Game one of this series but the Milkmen won the next four games to win the series.

The Milkmen failed to enter the Finals of the Commissioner's Cup after they were eliminated by the Beermen in the semi-finals.

2000–Present: Alaska Aces[edit]

As part of the league's move to strengthen its marketing through the PBA Properties, Alaska adopted a new moniker the Alaska Aces. Despite the change Alaska failed to reach the Finals of the Governor's Cup once again.

Before the 2001 season, the Aces traded popular star Johnny Abarrientos to the Pop Cola Panthers for forward Ali Peek and guard Jon Ordonio. In the draft, Alaska used the fifth pick to draft fil-am John Arigo. The Aces also signed Duremdes to a reported 48 million peso deal for seven years.

In the All-Filipino, the Aces were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Abarrientos and Pop Cola. In the Commissioners Cup, a strong showing by Peek gave defending champion San Miguel a fight but still loss in five games of the semis. In the Governors Cup, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Chambers retired three games into the Governors Cup. In a simple ceremony, the Aces retired his #20 jersey, becoming the second player in team history to have his number retired.

Duremdes was borrowed by the Philippine National Team in 2002 and Lastimosa made his return to Alaska. The Aces, with Ron Riley and Montreal Dobbins as imports, but after 6 games, Dobbins was replaced by James Head, advanced to the finals of the Governor's Cup against Purefoods. The Aces led 2-0 in the seven game series, but the TJ Hotdogs won the next three games. After Alaska tied it up in Game Six, Purefoods won Game seven to deny the Aces its 11th title. In the Commissioner's Cup, Ajani Williams and Chris Carawell bannered the Aces but was eliminated by Talk N' Text in the semi-finals. Duremdes returned for the Aces in the All-Filipino and made it to the finals. After winning Game 1, the Aces lost the next three games to settle another runner-up finish.

In the 2003 PBA Draft, Alaska shocked the league by trading their superstar, Kenneth Duremdes to the Sta. Lucia Realtors for the fifth pick of the first round. This enabled Alaska to get Brandon Cablay as the team's top draft pick.

The Aces also held the first overall pick in the draft and selected De La Salle University-Manila star point guard Mike Cortez, who was considered as the next great point guard in the Alaska franchise's history, following Johnny Abarrientos.

During halftime of their season opening game, Alaska retired Jojo Lastimosa's #6 jersey. During the offseason, Lastimosa announced his retirement after playing 15 seasons in the league. He became one of the team's assistant coaches under coach Cone's era.

In the All-Filipino, Alaska failed in its bid to enter the Finals as they were eliminated by Talk 'N Text in a grueling five-game series. However, the Aces won the third place trophy via a blowout in expense of San Miguel Beer.

In the Invitational tournament, Alaska had to play in the qualifying round to enter the tournament. The Aces swept the elimination round, winning all four of its games, to make it to the semis. In a one-game showdown, Alaska defeated Red Bull Barako to face Coca-Cola in the Finals.

The Tigers won Game One of the series, but the Aces won the next two games to win their 11th PBA title, this time with a different set of players. Brandon Cablay was named as Finals MVP, while Ali Peek won Best Player of the Conference honors.

In the Reinforced Conference, Alaska struggled in the tournament and was eliminated by Duremdes and Sta. Lucia in the quarters.

Alaska paraded former NBA journeyman Galen Young for the 2004 Fiesta Conference. The Aces placed second after the elimination round of the tournament. But, they failed to enter the finals of the said tournament winning only one game in three outings in the semi-finals.

In the 2004–05 season, the Aces managed to finished fourth in the qualifying round. After eliminating FedEx in the Wild-Card phase, they were swept by San Miguel in the quarters. During the tournament, Arigo and Peek were shipped to Coca-Cola for Jeffrey Cariaso and Reynel Hugnatan. Bong Hawkins also made his return to the Aces, reuniting him with Cariaso, assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa, and Cone.

Alaska hired Leon Derricks for the Fiesta Conference. However, his inconsistent game led to his replacement by former Chicago Bull Dickey Simpkins. The addition of Simpkins helped Alaska climbed into third place at the end of the classification round. The Aces faced San Miguel Beer in the semis. A back injury sustained by Simpkins, after being elbowed in the back by Dorian Peña, prevented him from playing at full strength during the series. Former Alaska Ace, Bryan Gahol, hit the last second shot in Game three to eliminate Alaska from the tournament.

2005–06 season[edit]

Prior to the start of the 2005–06 PBA season, the Aces built up their lineup by acquiring national team pool members, Tony dela Cruz and Rich Alvarez from the disbanding Shell Turbo Chargers. The Aces also acquired the services of former Mobiline and Coca-Cola import Artemus "Tee" McClary for the Fiesta Conference.

After the Aces placed second behind Team Pilipinas in the Brunei Sultan's Cup, with Dela Cruz playing for the said team, the team was considered as one of the top contenders to win the upcoming season.

However, the Aces went on a slide after a good start. After Alaska blowing a 28-point lead and losing to the Purefoods Chunkee Giants, the team went on a downhill since. With McClary's decline starting to show, he was eventually replaced by the 3-point shooting Odell Bradley who showed some impressive scoring outputs. However, Alaska still finished seventh in the classification phase with a 7-9 record.

The Aces swept Sta. Lucia in a best-of-three matchup in the wildcard phase before being swept in a best-of-five affair by eventual champion Red Bull Barako.

Weeks before the start of the Philippine Cup, Alaska traded Brandon Cablay to San Miguel in exchange for veteran Nic Belasco. On May 8, 2006, the Aces traded Don Allado to Talk 'N Text for guard Willie Miller and forward John Ferriols. Alaska finished with a 9-7 record in the classifications, thus earning an outright berth in the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, the Aces defeated the Coca-Cola Tigers, with former Alaska star Johnny Abarrientos on the squad, 3-1. The opening game of the series saw Alaska winning on a last second three-pointer by Nic Belasco.

In the semi-finals against top-seed Purefoods Chunkee Giants, the Aces led 3-1 and was a win away from a finals berth but failed to win all of the remaining games. Alaska would end the tournament on a winning note, capturing the third place trophy with a 102-95 win over San Miguel, their 12th third-place finish in team history.

2006–07 season: Fiesta Conference Champions[edit]

Head coach Tim Cone signed a contract extension to remain with the team, erasing speculation of his possible dismissal. In the 2006 PBA Draft, Alaska selected Letran's Aaron Aban and UST's Christian Luanzon.

Alaska started the 2006–07 PBA Philippine Cup poorly but rebounded to finish with an 8-10 record for a wildcard berth. After losing in a last-second overtime thriller against Coca-Cola, and a win by Sta. Lucia on the next game date eliminated Alaska from contention despite winning their last game against Sta. Lucia.

Injuries to Reynel Hugnatan and Mike Cortez affected the team's play throughout the said conference.

However, Alaska started the 2007 PBA Fiesta Conference with a 7-4 card before the All-Star break, with Roselle Ellis as their import. Shooting Guard, Willie Miller provided a strong performance for the Aces during the tournament posting numerous 20 point-games.

The return of Cortez sparked a late surge by the team by finishing with a 12-6 record and beat Ginebra in a one-game playoff to earn an outright semifinals berth.

After eliminating the San Miguel Beermen in the semifinals via a 4-2 series win, the Aces entered the finals for a 19th time to meet the Talk 'N Text Phone Pals.

Despite a 1-2 and a 2-3 deficit in the titular showdown, Miller, named the league's Most Valuable Player, erupted for 29 points to tie the series in Game 4 and recovered from a dismal performance in Game 5 with a sterling 37-point output in Game 6 to force a decider.

The seventh game was a seesaw battle before Miller fired a go-ahead layup and a Reynel Hugnatan freethrow in the last two minutes to seal a 99-96 championship win for Alaska.

2007–08 season[edit]

Alaska picked Adamson stalwart, Ken Bono, and University of Visayas Green Lancers starting center, JR "Baby Shaq" Quiñahan as the 6th and 7th overall picks of the 2007 PBA Draft along with second round selection Ardy Larong.

In order to free up some cap spaces, the team traded veteran forward Nic Belasco to Welcoat in exchange for Junjun Cabatu while signing free agent Ariel Capus.

In the 2007–08 Philippine Cup, the Aces lost at the semis against Sta. Lucia.

Before the start of the Fiesta Conference, Alaska acquired former King Blue Eagles L.A. Tenorio and Larry Fonacier in exchange for ace point guard Mike Cortez and 1st round draft pick Ken Bono. They also tapped former Chicago Bull and Talk 'N Text import Randy Holcomb as their reinforcement to help them defend the crown. Alaska, started slowly winning only 2 of their 6 matches including a 4-game losing streak. Then came a rumor that Holcomb will be replaced by former Milwaukee Buck Daniel Santiago. However, it was confirmed that the rumors were not true and they were not in negotiations with the Puerto Rico national team starting center. Alaska came on to a conference high 6-game winning streak and made their record to 8-6 and had a chance of getting a semi-final seat.

In their 2nd round game against Magnolia, Alaska was trailing along the way until the final minute which they came in and even grabbed the lead, but Alaska's semi-final dream came to an end when a call by the referee with 0.3 seconds left caused them the game. Tied at 99 all, former Alaska Ace Mike Cortez split his freethrows to give Magnolia a one point lead. However, Larry Fonacier's jumper went in front of the rim as time expired and Magnolia escaped with a nail-biting 100-99 win over the defending champions.

2008–09 season: On the road to 13th title[edit]

In the 2008 Annual Rookie Draft held on August 31, 2008 at Market! Market!, Taguig City, Alaska drafted scoring guard Solomon Mercado at fifth in the first round and grabbing Mapúa star Kelvin dela Peña at fifteenth in the second round. A day after the draft, the team acquired 2007 first overall pick and team leading scorer Joe Devance from Rain or Shine (formerly Welcoat Dragons) in exchange for Solomon Mercado and wingman Eddie Laure.

On September 4, 2008, the team signed 2004 7th overall pick Ervin Sotto. While on September 22, 2008, Alaska traded J.R. Quiñahan to the Air21 Express in exchange for 2008 6th overall pick Mark Borboran. Meanwhile, the team also signed veteran 6-9 Eric Canlas through free agency.

The Aces started their campaign on their quest for their 4th All-Filipino crown on a high note including a 4-0 start. They struggled in the middle part of the conference but still remained the leader in the standings. Alaska finished as the number one team after the elimination round winning 12 games in 18 matches and was the first team to secure a seat in the Semifinals giving them a long rest. After three weeks of waiting, they faced the defending Philippine Cup champion Sta. Lucia Realtors, a re-match of last year's Semifinals which went to a seven-game grueling series. The Realtors swept the depleted-lineup of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the Quarterfinals. The Aces beat the defending champion Realtors in six games to advance and arranged a Finals showdown with the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters. They had a 2-0 lead first but Talk 'N Text tied the series 2-2. In Game 5, Alaska won 95-93 courtesy by Willie Miller's tough three point shot. In Game 6, Talk 'N Text tied the series 3-3 to force a Game 7. In Game 7, they had a chance to win the title but the missed free throws during the crucial seconds of the game by Miller and Joe Devance gave Talk 'N Text the win and the title, 93-89.

2009–10 season: two straight Finals appearances and their 13th title[edit]

In the All-Filipino Cup, Alaska started strong and finished in first place in the standings, earning them an automatic semi-final seat. Willie Miller led the Aces in scoring with LA Tenorio continued to blossom for the Aces. Alaska swept Ginebra in the semi-finals and met Purefoods for the championship, who defeated San Miguel in six games.

Despite Alaska's strong output during the eliminations, Purefoods swept them in the finals, including three straight game heart-breaking losses.

Alaska paraded import Diamon Simpson in the Fiesta Conference. Simpson, who played for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, an NBA D-League team and affiliate of back-to-back NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers before coming to the PBA, was very impressive and fitted perfectly into Tim Cone's Triangle System. He nearly averaged 30 points and 20 rebounds a game and made Alaska to be the favorites to win it all in the import-laden conference.

In the middle of the conference, leading scorer Willie Miller was traded to the Barangay Ginebra Kings in exchange for high flyer Cyrus Baguio. It was rumored[by whom?] that Miller wanted out of Alaska before the season started. After the trade was approved and made, in a coincidence, Alaska's next game was against Ginebra. In that game, the Aces trailed most of the game until in the fourth quarter when Cyrus Baguio finally exploded for 14 points and showed his talents to lead Alaska to a comeback win. The Aces put team captain Jeffrey Cariaso in the reserve list in what would have been his retirement but a few games after, Cariaso returned and played again. Alaska also signed veteran guard Topex Robinson during the season.

Alaska met rival Talk N Text in the semi-finals. LA Tenorio was awarded as the Most Improved Player in the league. Former Alaska point guard Johnny Abarrientos announced his retirement after playing 15 seasons in the league. The Aces defeated the Tropang Texters in a grueling seven-game series despite being down 2-3. The Aces met top seed San Miguel Beer led by best import Gabe Freeman in the finals. The Aces dominated the Beermen and won their 13th Championship in six games. LA Tenorio and Cyrus Baguio were named co-Finals MVP of the series.

At the end of the season, Jeffrey Cariaso retired and Tony Dela Cruz was named the new captain of the team.

2010-11 season: The franchise's 25th anniversary[edit]

Before the season began, Alaska celebrated their 25th anniversary as a PBA franchise on September 28, 2010. During the commemoration, they have formally retired the jerseys of Bong Hawkins (#16) and Johnny Abarrientos (#14). Both players were instrumental for their grandslam finish in 1996.[1]

The league decided to go back to the three-conference format: All-Filipino Cup, Commissioner's Cup and the Governor's Cup.

In the PBA Draft, Alaska traded shooter Larry Fonacier to Talk N Text in exchange for the fourth overall pick that led them to draft former UE Warrior Elmer Espiritu. With Jeffrey Cariaso retiring, the Aces traded their second round pick to Meralco for another former UE player Bonbon Custodio. Alaska used their second draft pick in the second round to get JRU's Marvin Hayes.

For the duration of the Philippine Cup, Alaska will wear their throwback early 1990s light uniform temporary replacing their current light jersey.

Alaska finished the conference with a 7-7 record. Thanks to Joe Devance's improved play, it was enough for the Aces to be qualified in the quarterfinals. However, they were defeated by Ginebra in a do-or-die five games series despite leading 2-0 and up by 20 in game 5.

In the Commissioner's Cup, Alaska paraded former Chicago Bull Eddie Basden as their import for the upcoming conference. Before the conference started, Alaska played in Cebu for an Invitational Tournament that made them the champions in the said league. However, Basden failed to pass the height limit requirement for imports which was 6'4. Alaska quickly replaced him and got 2010 NBA D-League Slam Dunk Champion LD Williams. The Aces also traded long time bruiser Reynel Hugnatan to Meralco for young guns Hans Thiele and Paolo Bugia and released Marvin Hayes. Alaska also signed guard Don Dulay. Topex Robinson, who still has a live contract with Alaska, joined Tim Cone's crew as one of the assistant coaches of the team.

Before the Governor's Cup, Alaska traded rookie Elmer Espiritu to Air21 in exchange for swingman Wesley Gonzales. Aces coach Tim Cone said that they were pursuing Gonzales since the last three years. On May 27, 2011, Alaska Aces was forced to let go of Joe Devance after the talented Fil-Am forward begged off. Team manager Joaqui Trillo, however, stressed Devance is guaranteed of the maximum pay through the end of his current contract next year. So, Alaska Management trade Joe Devance for Air21 Express' Jay-R Reyes. On the next day, Commissioner Salud requested Air21 to add up another player or its 2011 first round pick as he finds the trade "uneven". The Express responded with the 2011 and 2012 second round picks making Salud nod in the deal. The Aces also signed PBA Veteran Aries Dimaunahan.

Alaska had a tweak start losing their first two games but quickly bounced back winning four of their last five games. Thanks to import Jason Forte's hustle play who coach Tim Cone called as "underrated", the team's improved play led by LA Tenorio and Cyrus Baguio plus newcomer Wesley Gonzales' "real game" starting to pay off, the Aces qualified to the step ladder semifinals. The Aces finished with 8 wins in 13 outings including the semifinals despite losing key players Cyrus Baguio and Wesley Gonzales to an injury. But due to the controversial quotient system, Alaska failed to enter the finals with Petron having the superior quotient despite with the same records with Ginebra and the Aces itself.

2011-12 Tim Cone era ends; Joel Banal succeeds[edit]

Alaska decided to release Paolo Bugia, Don Dulay and Mike Burtscher. While former UST guard Aries Dimaunahan returned to Shopinas.com Clickers where his rights are based.

Last August 28, 2011 at the PBA Rookie Draft, Alaska picked former FEU main man and Smart-Gilas standout Mac Baracael at sixth overall during the first round. In the second round, the Aces have four picks and used it to get former Blue Eagle leading scorer Eric Salamat at the 13th, mystery Fil-Am Julius Pasculado at the 14th, and big man Ariel Mepana at the 15th. The Aces also owned the 17th pick but decided to trade it to Meralco for its 2014 second round pick.

On September 1, 2011 Alaska made a rare press conference and shocked the basketball industry to announce that after 22 years of coaching the Alaska Aces, Tim Cone resigns as head coach of the Aces. Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu said that the legendary head coach is leaving Alaska to seek opportunities outside of the organization. He is succeeded by his lead assistant Joel Banal who inked a three-year deal to lead the team.

Alaska signed rookies Mac Baracael to a three-year deal and Eric Salamat to a two-year contract. While Fil-Am Julius Pasculado and Ariel Mepaña have signed a one-year contract each. Wesley Gonzales and Brandon Cablay were given new contracts while the team decided not to re-new the contract of Mark Borboran.

In head coach Joel Banal's first conference as the Aces' new tactician, Alaska struggled in the All-Filipino Cup and had one of their worst finishes in years winning only three games out of fourteen outings. The management and its players promised that they will bounce back in the next conference which is the import-laden Commissioner's Cup.

Alaska recruited 6'10 Matt Haryasz out of Stanford University as their reinforcement for the Commissioner's Cup. However, Haryasz was replaced by returning import and Mexican national team member Adam Parada before the start of the conference. The Aces also signed swingman Niño Gelig to bolster their lineup. Gelig is a former team mate of Cyrus Baguio and were known as the dynamic combo during their UST days in the UAAP as well as in the now-defunct PBL.

2011-2012 Joel Banal resigns; Luigi Trillo appointed as Interim coach[edit]

On April 16, 2012, Joel Banal stepped aside over the weekend to give Alaska Aces management an opportunity to explore coaching alternatives. Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu appointed long-time assistant coach Luigi Trillo, son of the current PBA governor Joaqui Trillo to handle the team for the at least rest of the season. Also, for the upcoming Governors Cup, the team will bring back Jason Forte.

Alaska went on and finished 9th in the league winning only two of their nine outings. The Aces failed to enter the quarter-finals with the team having its worst finish in a season since it joined the league.

2012-2013 A new era begins[edit]

Having the second worst record during last season, Alaska was awarded with the second overall pick in the draft lottery. On August 19, 2012 at the PBA Rookie Draft, the Aces selected NCAA Season 87 MVP Calvin Abueva of the San Sebastian Golden Stags as the second overall pick. As most of the analysts said that Abueva, who was mo-nickered as "the Beast" due to his impressive basketball skills, is the most talented player in the draft. Abueva leads the NCAA in points, rebounds and assists directory. While in the second round, the Aces snatched former UE Warrior point guard Raffy Reyes and swingman Karl Dehesa.

Alaska also retained head coach Luigi Trillo and hired Alex Compton, Louie Alas and reinstated Topex Robinson as assistant coaches. Leo Austria is supposedly to join the Aces' coaching staff as well but focused first with his head coaching job at Adamson University, making him available for next year. Dickie Bachmann was promoted to assistant manager while Jojo Lastimosa was tasked to man the sports camp director post.

Two weeks after the draft, Alaska made another blockbuster deal that sent 2011 top overall pick JV Casio and a Ginebra 2015 pick to the Aces, LA Tenorio to Ginebra, and Willie Miller plus a Ginebra 2014 first round pick to Global Port, formerly Powerade.

Ginebra first acquired Miller from Barako Bull in exchange for bruiser Enrico Villanueva and then arranged a deal to send Miller and its 2014 first round pick to Global Port for the rights to Casio.

In a separate deal, the Aces also nabbed sharp shooter Dondon Hontiveros from Petron in exchange for wing man Wesley Gonzales and seldom-used Hans Thiele. Alaska also signed second round draft pick Raphy Reyes to boost their back court and brought back veterans Nic Belasco and Eddie Laure, who helped the Aces win the championship last 2007.

After the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags bowed out at the hands of Letran Knights in the NCAA Final Four, Abueva signs with the Aces in a three-year max rookie deal.

The Aces managed to finish 5th in the standings with eight wins on fourteen meetings under their belt, it was enough to qualify the quarterfinals. They swept 4th seeded Meralco Bolts, who has a twice-to-beat advantage and Alaska entered the semifinals to face defending champion Talk N Text. Many are surprised with the Aces' performance as they pushed the defending champions in six grueling games. The Tropang Texters were once again champions after sweeping Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the finals. Calvin Abueva finished second in the race for the Best Player of the Conference honors behind Talk N Text guard Jason Castro.

Road to the 14th Title, 2013 Commissioner's Cup Champions[edit]

In the Commissioner's Cup Alaska tapped former University of Memphis Tiger Robert Dozier as their reinforcement. They also nabbed Aldrech Ramos from San Mig Coffee after trading Mac Baracael to Ginebra. Dozier is fitting well in the Aces' system and thanks to his brilliant performance plus support from local stars Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss, JVee Casio, Calvin Abueva and sixth man Dondon Hontiveros, Alaska is currently the number one team in the standings with an 11-3 record, and gaining the rights of twice to beat advantage in Quarter Finals. In the quarterfinals, they easily jumped out to an early lead against Air 21 but had to hold off a furious rally to survive. In the semifinals, Alaska booked a series with the San Mig Coffee Mixers, setting up an attempt to finally beat long-time coach Tim Cone. San Mig won Game 1 on a Bowles game winner but Alaska regained momentum as they cruised to a Game 2 win. Game 3 saw the Mixers take an early lead but the Aces staged a comeback to force overtime and won. Game 4 was similar, with Alaska finishing off San Miguel 83-78 to advance to the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.

The 2013 Commissioner's Cup finals featured the Alaska Aces and the crowd favorite, Barangay Ginebra Kings. Game 1 was lopsided all throughout in its duration because of a 28-6 advantage that the Aces erected early in the first half. The Kings cannot surpass the gigantic lead that they had to give up the game with Alaska winning, 87-70. In the first quarter of Game 2, a close battle took place with Alaska taking the lead after the first 12 minutes of action, 25-23. In the second quarter however makes the difference for the game, when the combined efforts of Rob Dozier and JVee Casio came out on top as they outscored the Kings in the 2nd quarter 29-14 to build a 17-point lead at halftime. In the 4th quarter of Game 2, the Kings waxed hot but their hopes to come back in the game were cut by Cebuano Hotshot Dondon Hontiveros when he buried three straight treys in the quarter. The Kings managed to cut the lead to 9 after a Mac Baracael trey but it was countered by a Sonny Thoss and-one. The Aces held off the Kings to build a 2-0 advantage in the Best-of-five Series after a 104-90 performance. Game 3 was very different for the Kings as they tried to win a game in the series. In the first half, the Kings held the Aces to only 44 points at halftime as they lead, 48-44. As the third quarter started, the Kings had a magnificent shooting percentage and erected a 7-point advantage after a JJ Helterbrand trey with 6:51 remaining in the quarter. This was cut short however, by the Aces as they went on to an 18-12 run as they trailed only by 1 after the 3rd, 71-72. The 4th quarter, however, made a huge turnaround for the Aces. After opening the quarter with a Mark Caguioa jumper, the Aces went on to finish the quarter strong, at 33-8 run which made them the 2013 Commissioner's Cup champions, 104-80. This is now the 14th championship for the Aces and the first without their long-time coach, Tim Cone.

In the Governor's Cup, Alaska tapped hard working Wendell Mckines out of New Mexico State. Coach Trillo said that it was a difficult decision to chose McKines over former import Jason Forte. Though McKines was consistent in the tournament by averaging a 30 point-20-rebounds every game, Alaska struggled during the conference but was good enough to qualify in the Playoffs with four wins in nine outings. They faced San Mig Coffee, which has a twice-to-beat advantage. The Aces came back from a 15-point deficit in the first game to force a do-or-die match-up but lost in the second game, bowing out of the Governor's Cup. During the Finals, Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva was named the Rookie Of The Year and included in the PBA Mythical First Team. Guard Cyrus Baguio and Center Sonny Thoss was included in the Mythical Second Team while JVee Casio won the Sportsmanship Award.

On the 12th of November 2013, the PBA Press Corps awarded Luigi Trillo as the Coach of the Year for the 2012-13 Season beating Grand Slam coaches Norman Black of Talk N' Text and former Alaska head coach Tim Cone of the San Mig Coffee Mixers. Trillo steered Alaska from a lottery team in 2011-12 to a title contender last season. Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva was named in the All-Rookie Team along with Petron Blaze Boosters' Junemar Fajardo, Meralco Bolts' Cliff Hodge, San Mig Coffee Mixers' Alex Mallari and hotshot Chris Tiu of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

2013-14 Season: Drive for 15th Title; Trillo Out, Compton In[edit]

Long-time Alaska Governor/Team Manager Joaqui Trillo announced his retirement effectively at the start of the 2013-14 PBA Season. Former Aces assistant coach Dickie Bachmann has been tapped as his replacement.

In the 2013 PBA Draft, Alaska has the 8th overall pick and chose Ryan Buenafe in the first round. The decision shocked many PBA analysts and fans since the Aces chose Buenafe over college stars Jeron Teng of UST, Nico Salva, whose team mates with Buenafe in Ateneo, and Adamson Falcon scorer Alex Nuyles. Coach Luigi Trillo stated that Buenafe is the "smartest player" in the draft. Despite having weight issues and missing the rookie applicant biometrics, Buenafe already lost 20 pounds prior to the draft. Trillo said that the former Blue Eagle has high basketball IQ, good passer and an excellent decision-maker that fits well in the Aces' triangle system. They also nabbed former FEU Tamaraw Chris "Ping" Exciminiano in the second round and PBA D-League bigman Raymund Ilagan in the third round. The Aces traded their other second round pick to the Talk N text Tropang Texters for a future second round pick as well.

On November 9, 2013 Alaska has signed former ABL MVP Leo Avenido and rookies Ryan Buenafe and Ping Exciminiano to bolster their lineup in the upcoming 2013-14 PBA Philippine Cup. The Aces managed to win 8 games in 14 outings and qualify for the playoffs as the eight seed and faced top-seeded Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, who has a twice-to-beat advantage. Alaska forced a do-or-die by taking Game 1 but fell short in Game 2, eliminating them in the process.

In the Commissioner's Cup, the Aces brought back reigning best import awardee Robert Dozier, who helped Alaska snatch their 14th title in 2013. Unlike last year, the conference was shortened for the Gilas National team in order to give more time to prepare for the FIBA World Basketball Championships in Spain. Alaska then traded Aldrech Ramos to the Air21 Express for bruiser Vic Manuel to beef up their frontline. The Aces had a 1-3 slow start but managed to win their remaining five games to earn the number 3 seed in the playoffs. They faced sixth seed San Mig Coffee Mixers in a best-of-three series. The Aces took game 1 but lost Games 2 and 3 and again, Alaska failed to enter the semifinals for the third straight conference.

Alaska tapped former NBA player Bill Walker, who suited up for the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks as their reinforcement in the Governor's Cup. After splitting their first two games, Luigi Trillo stepped down as head coach of Alaska. Trillo, who was awarded as the PBA Coach of the Year in 2013 resigned because of "family reasons". With Trillo throwing the towel, team owner Wilfred Uytengsu appointed lead assistant Alex Compton as the team's new tactician. Alaska suffered its worst defeat in history, a 51-point deficit at the hands of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Rumors sparkled that the team is being put on sale to newcomer NLEX Corp, who wanted to buy an existing franchise instead of starting from scratch. Team manager Dickie Bachmann shut down the rumors stating the team is "here to stay." Uytengsu also denied the rumors and stated that he is not selling the second winningest franchise in the PBA. He called the reports as "silly and laughable". The following week, Alaska extended the contracts of main core players Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss and JVee Casio for another three years. The Aces finished he conference with a 5-4 record making them the third seed and earning a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. They eliminated crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the quarterfinals, 92-81. The Aces entered the semifinals and will face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a best-of-five series.

Season-by-season records[edit]

Records from the 2013–14 PBA season:
Conf. Team name Elimination round Playoffs
Finish W L PCT Stage Results
PHI Alaska Aces 8th/10 5 9 .357 8th-seed playoff
Quarterfinals
Alaska 94, Meralco 91*
Barangay Ginebra** def. Alaska in 2 games
COM 3rd/10 6 3 .667 Quarterfinals San Mig Coffee def. Alaska** in 2 games
GOV 3rd/10 5 4 .556 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Alaska** def. Barangay Ginebra in 1 game
Rain or Shine 3, Alaska 2
Total elimination round 19 13 .594 3 Quarterfinal appearance|1 Semifinal appearance
Total playoffs 5 6 .455 0 Finals appearances
Total 2013-14 21 21 .488 0 Championships
Total franchise 848 698 .549 14 championships

*one-game playoffs
**team had the twice-to-beat advantage

Current roster[edit]

Alaska Aces roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # POB Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY–MM–DD) From
G/F 3 Philippines Baguio, Cyrus 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 1980-08-19 UST
G 4 Philippines Reyes, Raffy 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 165 lb (75 kg) 1987-12-1 UE
G 5 Philippines Exciminiano, Chris (R) 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1988-11-17 FEU
C 7 Papua New Guinea Thoss, Sonny 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 1981-12-07 James Cook
G/F 8 Philippines Abueva, Calvin 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1988-02-04 SSC-R
F 11 Philippines Laure, Eddie 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1977-07-06 Adamson
C 12 Philippines Eman, Samigue 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 320 lb (145 kg) 1982-03-12 Umin
G/F 13 Philippines Buenafe, Ryan (R) 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1990-02-01 Ateneo
F/C 24 Philippines Manuel, Vic 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1987-06-18 PSBA
G 25 Philippines Hontiveros, Dondon 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1977-06-01 UC
F 27 Philippines Espinas, Gabby 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 194 lb (88 kg) 1982-01-03 PCU
G 31 Philippines Jazul, RJ 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1986-04-11 Letran
G/F 35 United States dela Cruz, Tony (C) 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 178 lb (81 kg) 1978-08-24 UC-Irvine
G 42 Philippines Casio, JV 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1986-09-01 DLSU
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)
Team manager



Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (I) Import
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Roster


  • a also serves as Alaska's board governor.


Players of note[edit]

Members of the PBA's 25 greatest players[edit]

  • Johnny Abarrientos – "The Flying A" played for team from 1993–2000; led Alaska to numerous PBA title and was the 1996 PBA Most Valuable Player
  • Bogs Adornado – played for Hills Bros. in the 1987 season; became the team's head coach after his retirement
  • Kenneth Duremdes – "Captain Marbel" played for the team from 1996–2003; led Alaska to four PBA titles and was the 1998 PBA Most Valuable Player
  • Abet Guidaben – played for the team from 1989–1990 before being traded to Pepsi for Harmon Codiñera.
  • Jojo Lastimosa – "The 4th Quarter Man" led Alaska to nine PBA titles and was named to numerous Mythical Team selections

Team captains[edit]

Not to be forgotten[edit]

Imports[edit]

Retired numbers[edit]

Alaska Aces retired numbers
Player Position Tenure
6 Jojo Lastimosa G 1991-2000
2002-2003[a]
14 Johnny Abarrientos G 1993–2001[b]
16 Bong Hawkins F 1993-2000
2005-2006[b]
20 Sean Chambers F 1990–2001[c]
22 Jeffrey Cariaso G 1995–1997
2004-2010[d]
33 William "Bogs" Adornado G 1987–1988[e]
  • a  – retired during the opening of the 2003 season
  • b  – retired during the Alaska 25th anniversary reunion last September 27, 2010
  • c  – retired after Chambers announced his retirement in the 2001 Governor's Cup
  • d  – retired during the semifinals of the 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference
  • e  – retired during the opening ceremonies of the 1988 PBA season

Coaches[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alaska Aces: We're going to Disneyland, THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco, (The Philippine Star), September 4, 2010.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Purefoods T.J. Hotdogs
PBA Third Conference Champions
1991
Succeeded by
Swift Mighty Meaties
Preceded by
San Miguel Beermen
PBA Governors Cup Champions
1994–1997
Succeeded by
Formula Shell Zoom Masters
Preceded by
Sunkist Orange Juicers
Purefoods Carne Norte Cowboys
Formula Shell Zoom Masters
PBA All-Filipino Cup Champions
1996
1998
2000
Succeeded by
Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys
Shell Velocity
San Miguel Beermen
Preceded by
Sunkist Orange Juicers
Gordon's Gin Boars
PBA Commissioner's Cup Champions
1996
1998
Succeeded by
Gordon's Gin Boars
San Miguel Beermen
Preceded by
San Miguel Beermen (1989)
Grand Slam winners
1996
Succeeded by
To be determined
Preceded by
Great Taste Coffee Makers (1984)
PBA Invitational Conference Champions
2003
Succeeded by
(last)
Preceded by
Red Bull Barako
San Miguel Beermen
PBA Fiesta Conference Champions
2007
2010
Succeeded by
Barangay Ginebra Kings
(last)