|The Jeron Teng-led Aces are leaving the PBA after 35 seasons. PBA Images (file photo)|
MANILA—One of the PBA's fabled franchises will be bidding goodbye to the league.
The Alaska Aces announced on Wednesday that they will let go of their franchise after their stint in the Governors' Cup, calling it a "retirement".
“We thought long and hard before making this final decision. However, we believe that this will allow us to focus our resources on providing affordable nutrition for Filipino families,” Alaska Milk Corporation chairman Fred Uytengsu said in a statement.
The decision, according to the team, is in line with the new direction the company, now under the ownership of Royal FrieslandCampina, is tracking.
Alaska joined the PBA in 1986 as an expansion team after San Miguel took a leave from the league.
The Aces, who also carried the monikers Air Force, Milkmen, and Hills Bros. Coffee Kings, won 14 PBA titles including the 1996 grand slam under Coach Tim Cone.
They last won it all in the 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup, sweeping Barangay Ginebra in the best-of-five finals.
It was also Alaska's first championship without Cone at the helm as he already moved to Magnolia that time. Cone would later join Ginebra.
“The Aces franchise will always be very special to me. I had the good fortune of starting this franchise at the age of 24 and learned so much about team dynamics and building championship teams from the players and coaching staff. We take great pride in our participation and success all these years and know we won with integrity. I also want to thank the PBA for our many years of partnership and wish the league continued success in the years to come,” Uytengsu shared.
Currently 3-2 in the conference, the Aces' farewell tour begins with a Thursday night clash against the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno