Alaska Aces (PBA)

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Alaska Aces
Alaska Aces logo
Joined 1986
History Alaska Air Force
1980s
Hills Bros Coffee Makers
1987
Alaska Milkmen
1990s-2000
Alaska Aces
2000-Present
Team colors Red and white
Company Alaska Mlik Corp.
Head coach Tim Cone
Championships 13 (1991 Third Conference, 1994 Governor's, 1995 Governor's, 1996 All-Filipino, 1996 Commissioner's, 1996 Governor's, 1997 Governor's, 1998 All-Filipino, 1998 Commissioner's, 2000 All-Filipino, 2003 Invitational, 2007 Fiesta Conference, 2010 Fiesta Conference
Uniforms
 
Light uniform jersey
Light uniform jersey
 
Light uniform shorts
 
Light uniform
 
Dark uniform jersey
Dark uniform jersey
 
Dark uniform shorts
 
Dark uniform

The Alaska Aces is a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) team since 1986 under the ownership of Alaska Milk Corporation.

They are known for winning 10 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 teams to achieve the feat.

Contents

History

1986: First season

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 third 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 Saldana
  • Arnulfo 'Arnie' Tuadles
  • Ludovico 'Naning' Valenciano
  • Norman Black (Import)
  • Donnie Ray Koonce
  • Jerry Lee Eaves
  • Keith Morrison

1987: Hills Bros. Coffee Makers

In 1987, Alaska Milk changed its name to the Hills Bros. Coffeemakers. After Manila Beer's disbandment, the Coffeemakers 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 "Prince" Philip Cezar.

By virtue of its runner-up finish, Hills Bros. participated in the first PBA-IBA World Championship Cup. It finished third, behind the Los Angeles Cougars (which had future Alaska import Sean Chambers in its line-up) and Great Taste Coffee.

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, Jose 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 the 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 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

In 1988, the team reverted back to the Alaska name with the Air Force monicker. 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 but failed to place more than fourth in the season-ending Reinforced Conference.

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

1991-1999: Alaska Milkmen

Arrival of Tim Cone

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. 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 and his team dominated the series that saw them winning the series 3-1 for their first title in team history.

Jojo Lastimosa was acquired after being taken from Purefoods in a trade with Elmer Cabahug. 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 Hawkins from Sta Lucia which helped "The Hawk" 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.

Alaska made all it to the Finals of 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. Alaska also got Jeffrey Cariaso from the draft and added center Edward Juinio to the team.

1996 Grand Slam

In the All-Filipino Conference, the Milkmen defeated the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs team of Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera in five games. In the series-clincher, Jeffrey Cariaso was fouled in the final second on an inbound play. 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

Alaska suffered one of the biggest losses prior to the 1997 season when Jeffrey Cariaso signed with the rebuilding 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 landed Kenneth Duremdes from Pop Cola and the 24 year old became a perfect replacement for Jeffrey Cariaso. Alaska, with Chambers once again as import, defeated Purefoods to win the title in five.

In 1998, Alaska 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.

Dreadlocked wearing Devin Davis powered Alaska in the Commissioners 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 by shooter Roel Gomez, the Milkmen failed to enter the semis of both the special 1998 PBA Centennial Cup and the season-ending Governors 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 eliminated 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 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 Beermen in the semi-finals.

2000-Present: Alaska Aces

As part of the league's move to strengthen its marketing through the PBA Properties, Alaska adopted a new monicker in the Alaska Aces (incidentally, this was also a name of an ice hockey team) replaced its original logo and uniforms to a more cartoonish-look which they still have today. Despite the change, however, 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. 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 to the national pool in 2002 and Lastimosa made his return to Alaska. The Aces, with Ron Riley and James Head as imports, 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 Head 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, the league was shocked by the trade of Duremdes to the Sta. Lucia Realtors for the fifth pick of the first round. This enabled Alaska to land Brandon Cablay to the team.

The Aces also hold 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 Alaska franchise following 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 is currently one of the team's assistant coaches.

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.

In the Invitational tournament, Alaska had to play in the qualifying round to enter the tournament. The Aces swept the round to enter the tournament. They won all four games of the elimination round 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 semis of the said tournament winning only one game in three outings.

In the 2004-05, 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, he had inconsistent game and was replaced by former Chicago Bull Dickey Simpkins. The addition of Simpkins helped Alaska climbed into third at the end of the classification round. The Aces faced Red Bull Barako in the semis, but Bryan Gahol's game-winner in Game three eliminated Alaska out of the tournament.

2005-06 season

Prior to the start of the 2005-06 PBA season, the Aces build up their lineup for the said season, 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, 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 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

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 Aron Aban and UST's Christian Luanzon.

Staring the 2006-07 PBA Philippine Cup poorly, they've rebounded to finish with an 8-10 record, qualifying themselves 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, the Aces were eliminated from contention, despite winning their last game against Sta. Lucia.

Injuries to Reynel Hugnatan, suffered during the semifinals of the 2006 Philippine Cup, and Mike Cortez during the start of the season depleted the Aces in the tournament.

Current roster

Jersey number Position Name Height Birth date Seasons Drafted College
1 Center Samigue Eman 6'9" 12 March 1982 4 2007 (2) University of Mindanao
3 Guard Cyrus Baguio 6'1" 19 August 1980 8 2003 (14) University of Santo Tomas
4 Guard L.D. Williams 6'3" 8 May 1988 - Import Wake Forest University
5 Guard L.A. Tenorio 5'8" 9 July 1984 5 2006 (4) Ateneo de Manila University
7 Center Sonny Thoss 6'7" 7 December 1981 7 2004 (5) James Cook University
9 Forward Elmer Espiritu 6'3" 23 November 1985 1 2010 (4) University of the East
10 Forward Mark Borboran 6'4" 20 November 1984 3 2008 (6) University of the East
11 Forward Hans Thiele 6'4" 2 February 1984 1 2010 (undrafted) University of the East
13 Guard Bonbon Custodio 5'11" 30 November 1982 3 2008 (8) University of the East
19 Guard Don Dulay 5'7" 17 October 1980 4 2006 (undrafted) El Camino College
21 Center Paolo Bugia 6'5" 19 January 1981 5 2005 (17) Ateneo de Manila University
24 Guard Brandon Cablay 6'0" 1 March 1978 8 2003 (5) Vanguard University
30 Center Ervin Sotto 6'7" 30 July 1981 7 2004 (7) Saint Francis of Assisi College System
35 Forward Tony dela Cruz 6'4" 24 August 1978 12 1999 (direct hire) University of California, Irvine
38 Forward Joe Devance 6'8" 19 February 1982 4 2007 (1) University of Texas, El Paso

Players of note

PBA's 25th anniversary all-time team

  • Johnny Abarrientos - 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 coach after his retirement
  • Kenneth Duremdes - played for the team from 1997-2002; led Alaska to four PBA titles and was the 1998 PBA Most Valuable Player
  • Jojo Lastimosa - led Alaska to nine PBA titles and was named to numerous Mythical team selections

Other notable players

  • Bong Hawkins
  • Don Carlos Allado - played for Alaska from 1999-2006; member of the 2003 Invitational tournament championship team
  • Bong Alvarez - scored a then-PBA record 71 points for Alaska
  • John Arigo - played for Alaska from 2001-2004; member of the 2003 Invitational tournament championship team
  • Cris Bolado - played for Alaska during its title runs in the 1990s; most notably known as being the team's 12th man; known for his nine straight finals appearance with multiple teams, including the Milkmen
  • Boy Cabahug - the current head coach of University of Visayas
  • Brandon Cablay - played for Alaska from 2003-2006; member of the 2003 Invitational tournament championship team and was named Finals MVP
  • Rudy Distrito - member of the 1986 Alaska team that played its first seaosn in the league
  • Roehl Gomez - played for Alaska during its title runs in the 1990s, most notably known for his three-point shooting; always put in the last few minutes when Alaska was trailing in hopes of offense; won a Three-Point Shooting Competition in the All-Star Games
  • Poch Juinio - member of the Alaska championship teams of the 1990s
  • Ric-Ric Marata
  • Ali Peek - played for Alaska from 2001-2004; member of the 2003 Invitational tournament championship team and was named the Best Player of the Conference
  • Eugene Quilban - played his first season with the team in 1991 leading Alaska to the Third Conference title
  • Ricky Relosa - known as one-half of the famed Bruise Brothers tandem together with Yoyoy Villamin
  • Jun Reyes - played as backup point guard before joining the team's coaching staff
  • Marte Saldana - played for Alaska in the team's 1986 squad
  • Rodney Santos - played for Alaska from 1997-2002; member of four Alaska title teams
  • Jack Tanuan
  • Alvin Teng
  • Ritchie Ticzon
  • Stephen Padilla - a former Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) player, played for Cebu Gems. A Cebu native player who is also known for his 3point range. He currently plays for ML-Kwarta Padala in a local Cebu league.
  • Yoyoy Villamin - known as one-half of the famed Bruise Brothers tandem together with Ricky Relosa; almost won the 1987 PBA Most Valuable Player award

Imports

  • Norman Black - played for Alaska in 1986
  • Sean Chambers - led Alaska to numerous titles during his 10-plus year tenure with the team
  • Derrick Hamilton - played for Alaska in the mid-90's
  • Devin Davis - led Alaska to the 1998 Commissioners Cup title and was named as the Best Import of the Conference
  • Sylvester Gray - played for Alaska in the 1997 Commissioners Cup
  • Kevin Holland - led Alaska to a runner-up finish in the 1997 Commissioners Cup
  • Monty Buckley - played for Alaska in the 1998 season
  • Terrance Badgett - played for Alaska in the 2001 Commissioners Cup
  • Galen Young - played for Alaska in the 2004 Fiesta Conference
  • Isaac Fontaine
  • Leon Derricks - played a few games in the 2005 Fiesta Conference
  • Ron Riley - played for Alaska in the 2001 and 2002 seasons; led Alaska to a runner-up finish in the 2002 Governors Cup
  • James Head - played for Alaska in the 2002 season; led Alaska to a runner-up finish in the 2002 Governors Cup
  • Dickey Simpkins - played for Alaska in the 2005 Fiesta Conference
  • Artemus McClary - played for Alaska in the 2005-06 Fiesta Conference
  • Odelle Bradley - played for Alaska in the 2005-06 Fiesta Conference
  • Willie Bland
  • Jerry Eaves
  • Marques Braggs - played for Alaska during the 1990s

Retired numbers

  • 6 Jojo Lastimosa - retired during the opening of the 2003 season
  • 20 Sean Chambers - retired after Chambers announced his retirement in the 2001 Govenors Cup
  • 33 William "Bogs" Adornado - retired during the opening of the 1988 season

Coaches

External links

tl:Alaska Aces

Original Source

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