Alaska Aces, Tim Cone part ways


By Mark Giongco — After 22 glorious PBA seasons, Alaska and its long-time head coach Tim Cone have decided to part ways.

“We have released Tim Cone as head coach of the Alaska Aces,” said Team Owner Wilfred Uytengsu Thursday during a press conference held at the Corinthian Plaza in Makati. “It came as quite a surprise to me when Tim asked me for his release last week.”

“We wish Tim well. We had quite a journey. I know there was never a 22-year partnership like this in the PBA,” added Uytengsu.

Joel Banal, who served as Cone’s assistant coach for many years, will take over the coaching reins for the Aces when the 37th PBA season kicks off on October.

Cone, who steered Alaska to 13 titles including an elusive Grand Slam in 1996, cited he wanted to explore other challenges as one of the reasons for leaving his beloved franchise.

“I wouldn’t consider this a rest, I consider this more of a changing of direction. This is just simply a parting of ways. I would like to continue coaching and if there’s something out there, I’d certainly go for it,” said an emotional Cone.

Cone also denied rumors that he is being tipped to coach BMeg.

“I’ve heard of the rumors, I have not been given an offer from BMeg,” said Cone, who still has two years left on his contract.

With Banal, who won a title with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP and Talk ‘N Text in 2002 and 2003, respectively, the Aces are still expected to be the same team primed for another title run.

“This is for sure, the 13 championships that’s hard to duplicate,” said Banal.

“The system is obviously working. We will use a lot of coach Tim’s system and little by little, probably, we would inject a little of what I know,” added Banal.

And Cone, who came in with his usual look dressed in his long sleeves and tie, showed immense respect to the Alaska franchise, the team which he started coaching when he was 31.

“I’ve learned so much from this organization. The way you go about things, and if you’re doing things the right way over and over again that begets winning. Don’t underestimate how unique Alaska is and that’s not going to be easy trying to be duplicated,” said Cone, who also shared that the toughest part was leaving the players.

“The hardest thing for me right now is leaving the players. [It’s] like a sledgehammer beating my heart,” said Cone.

Cone also shared he didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to his players.

He did however get the opportunity to do so right after the press conference with all of his troops seated at the back part of the room.

Cone thanked and hugged each one, from his reserves to his starters LA Tenorio, Tony dela Cruz, Cyrus Baguio and Sonny Thoss.

Dela Cruz, the veteran forward and team captain, also shared his sentiments.

“It’s sad for me as a player. In behalf of the players we’re obviously confused and shocked but the focus of our team is to win that All-Filipino championship,” said Dela Cruz.

“Coach Tim has been like [a]second father. He taught me a lot about basketball and life. Again, from all the players, we wish you well,” Dela Cruz added.

Alaska Aces 2010 Fiesta Cup Champion





Alaska Aces Team History

(The Philippine Star)

1986. After the temporary departure of the Magnolia team prior to the start of the 1986 PBA season, the league was reduced to only five teams.

Alaska Milk Corporation was accepted as the sixth team of the PBA with several holdovers from the old Magnolia team and imports.

1987. In 1987, Alaska Milk changed its name to the Hills Bros. Coffee Kings after the Company acquired the brand. Coffee Kings acquired Yoyoy Villamin from the disbanded Manila Beers to form a bruising tandem with Ricky Relosa as the “Bruise Brothers”. They finished first runner up in the All-Filipino Conference which enabled them to join the PBA-IBA World Championship Cup, finishing third behind the Los Angeles Cougars (which had future Alaska import Sean Chambers in its line-up) and Great Taste Coffee.

After the year, Bogs 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 franchise to have his number retired. Adornado was later named as the team’s coach.

1988. The team reverted back to the Alaska name. Alaska finished third place in both the Open and All-Filipino Conferences but failed to place more than fourth in the season-ending Reinforced Conference.

1989. 1989 saw the arrival of the new coach, American Tim Cone and the debut of Sean Chambers as Alaska’s import.

Before the end of 1989, Alaska acquired Paul “Bong” Alvarez, Ric-Ric Marata and Boy Cabahug and became the Alaska Air Force. Same as a year before, Alaska won two third place trophies in the Open and Reinforced Conferences.

1990. Alaska advanced in the finals of the Third Conference against a young Purefoods team. Alaska imports then were Carlos Clark and Sean Chambers. During the annual draft, Alaska had the top pick and grabbed Alex Araneta out of the Ateneo de Manila University. Araneta played with Alaska until 1997 when he joined the Company as one of its sales managers.

1991. Eugene Quilban joined Alaska from the rookie draft to bolster the Alaska squad. Alaska returned to the finals of the Third Conference against crowd-favorite Ginebra San Miguel and former LA Laker 6’4” guard Wes Matthews. Bong Alvarez and the Alaska Air Force team dominated the series that saw them winning the series 3-1 for their first title in team history.

Jojo Lastimosa was acquired in 1991 after being taken from Purefoods in a trade with Elmer Cabahug. Quilban later also left Alaska for 7-Up, which he led to a finals loss to Swift.

1992. Alaska managed one third place finish during the First Conference in 1992. By then and with the departure of Alvarez, Quilban et al, the Alaska team monicker was reverted back to The Milkmen.

1993: Re-building Alaska. In the 1993 draft, the Alaska Milkmen drafted amateur league’s MVP and Far Eastern University point guard Johnny Abarrientos. Alaska also acquired Dickie Bachmann and John Cardel from the De La Salle during that year.

1994: The Upward Climb. Alaska acquired Rene “Bong” Hawkins, Jr. from Sta Lucia in early 1994 which formed the “triumvirate” of the team, along with Jojo Lastimosa and Johnny Abarrientos.

In the Governor’s Cup, Alaska defeated Swift to win their second PBA title with Abarrientos, Lastimosa, Hawkins and import Sean Chambers leading the team.

1995.Alaska made all it to the Finals of all the conferences of 1995.

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. The Alaska Milkmen were the back-to-back Governor’s Cup champions.

Prior to the opening of the new season, Alaska got American-born Jeffrey Cariaso from the draft and added center Edward Juinio from U.P. to the team.

1996 Grand Slam. In the All-Filipino Conference, the Milkmen defeated the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs 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 All-Filipino Cup crown and championship title of the year.

Their toughest championship series was in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals where the Milkmen captured the seventh and final game to win their fifth title in their franchise history.

Alaska won all three conferences, thus, becoming one of only three teams (along with San Miguel and Crispa) in Philippine basketball history to achieve a grand slam.

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

In the Governor’s Cup, the Alaska milkmen landed Kenneth Duremdes from Pop Cola. Alaska, with Sean Chambers once again as import, defeated Purefoods to win the title in five.

1998. In 1998, Alaska once again dominated the All-Filipino Cup and took on San Miguel in the finals.

Dreadlocked wearing Devin Davis powered Alaska in the Commissioners Cup as the team advanced to the finals in a rematch against the Beermen. Devin Davies won Best Import honors. 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.

1999. In the All-Filipino, the Milkmen were eliminated by expansion team Tanduay in the semis. In the Commissioner’s Cup, Devin Davis made his return to the team. Alaska 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.

2000.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. Alaska also received the Centennial Cup trophy, along with the All-Filipino crown.

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

2000: Alaska Aces. In the PBA relaunch, Alaska chose the monicker Alaska Aces and sported its new red, white and black uniforms. Alaska chose “Aces” since these refer to fighter pilots with hidden and powerful advantages that opponents fail to match.

2001. Before the 2001 season, the Aces traded its biggest star Johnny Abarrientos to the Pop Cola Panthers for forward Ali Peek. The trade triggered reactions and questions from fans of the league and the team. In the annual draft however, 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.

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

2002. Duremdes was borrowed to the national pool in 2002 and Jojo 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.

Duremdes returned for the Aces in the All-Filipino and made Alaska to the finals. After winning Game One, the Aces lost the next three games to settle for another runner-up finish.

2003. During the 2003 PBA Draft, Alaska had traded Duremdes to the Sta. Lucia Realtors for the fifth pick of the first round was announced. This move enabled Alaska to land Brandon Cablay to the team.

Lastimosa announced his retirement after playing 15 seasons in the league to become one of Alaska Aces’ assistant coaches and the Executive Director of Alaska youth sports development program, the Alaska Basketball Power Camp.

In the All-Filipino Conference, 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 won all four games of the elimination round and made it to the semis. In a one-game showdown, Alaska defeated Red Bull Barako to face Coca Cola in the Finals. The Aces won their 11th PBA title.

2004. Alaska paraded former NBA journeyman Galen Young for the 2004 Fiesta Cup Conference. The Aces placed second after the elimination round of the tournament.

In the 2004-05 season, the Aces managed to finished fourth in the qualifying round. Bong Hawkins also made his return to the Aces, reuniting him with Cariaso, Assistant Coach Jojo Lastimosa and Tim Cone.

The addition of former Chicago Bull Dickey 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 (a former Alaska Aces player) game-winner in Game Three eliminated Alaska out of the tournament.

2005. Prior to the start of the 2005-06 PBA season, the Aces saw the build-up of the team’s lineup, acquiring national team members Tony Dela Cruz and Rich Alvarez from the disbanding Shell Turbo Chargers.

The Aces placed second behind Team Pilipinas, with Dela Cruz playing for the said team. The team was then considered as one of the top contenders to win the upcoming season.

2006-2007. 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.

Head coach Tim Cone signed a contract extension to remain with the team, erasing speculations of his possible dismissal.

The Alaska Aces reached the Finals for the 19th time when they beat the San Miguel Beermen in the semifinals (4-2) in six games.

Alaska faced the tough Talk N’ Text Phone Pals in a Finals series that stretched all through seven games. Alaska won its hard-earned victory in Game Seven. Willie Miller was named Player of the Series and MVP of the season, his second, while Ellis won the well-deserved Best Import honors.

2008-2009. The Aces kicked-off their quest for their 4th All-Filipino crown on a high note with a 4-0 start. Alaska finished as the number one team after the elimination round winning 12 games in 18 matches. Alaska was the first team to secure a seat in the Semifinals giving them a long rest. The Aces beat the defending champion Realtors in six games to advance and arranged a Finals showdown with the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. Alaska 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. Talk ‘N Text won the title, 93-89. A year later, Alaska entered the 2009-2010 All FIlipino with fierce and hunger only to swept by Purefoods in the Finals.

2010: 25 Final appearances in 24 years. 2010 was the year when Willie Miller was traded to Ginebra for Cyrus Baguio. It was also the year when the Alaska Aces appeared for the 25th time in 24 years in the Finals and captured its 13th Championship vs. San Miguel Beermen. LA Tenorio and Cyrus Baguio were named co-MVPs of the Finals.

To win that Fiesta Cup the Aces also had to go through the three most popular, most powerful and most established teams in the league in Ginebra, Talk n Text and San Miguel Beer.

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