ALASKA management has cried foul over allegations the team brought in paid 'hakot' supporters to cheer for the Aces in Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five series against crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra.
Explaining the team's side to Spin.ph, Alaska sports manager CK Kanapi said the busloads of fans in red shirts seen at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday were not paid fans but employees of the company from its main plant in San Pedro, Laguna.
Kanapi said online accusations of 'hakot' fans are unfair, insisting that never in the long history of the Uytengsu franchise had it paid fans to support the team.
“It’s unfair for them to say the supporters of Alaska, especially the Gatas Republik, are bayaran. They are our supporters right from the very start,” said Kanapi, daughter of former Shell governor Bobby Kanapi.
“Nakaka-awa naman `yung mga diehard fans namin na sumisigaw at minamalat to support our players, tapos sasabihan na bayaran,” Kanapi added as she called on fans of both sides to refrain from trading barbs and focus on the games.
Kanapi did not deny the presence of buses that brought Alaska fans to the Big Dome prior to the match.
“That’s true (the buses carrying fans). Pero those people are employees of our plant sa San Pedro, Laguna. Every Finals appearance ng Alaska, talagang nanonood sila,” said the Alaska sports manager.
“Kulang pa nga 'yung bilang ng mga employees namin kasi kinulang rin 'yung ticket allotments namin.”
A crowd of 19,678 was on hand to witness Alaska blow away Ginebra, 87-70, in the series opener, and Kanapi admitted the Aces fans were grossly outnumbered by Ginebra supporters by a ratio of 8-2 inside the Big Dome.
“Honestly ramdam namin `yung mas madami nilang bilang. Tingin ko nga 20 percent lang ang supporters namin sa total number of crowd as Araneta (last Wednesday),” she stressed.
However, Alaska has one of the oldest and best-organized fan groups in the pro league, and Kanapi said Aces supporters are among the most loyal.
“I even compare nga the Gatas Republik’s valiant support to the team sa movie na '300,'” said Kanapi.
For now, Kanapi, who also serves as the photographer of Alaska's growing online fan site, hopes to rally Alaska supporters to remain humble and stay away from petty quarrels with opposing fans.
“We cannot please everyone. Basta focus na tayo sa Gatas Republik on cheering for our Alaska Aces. Nothing more, nothing less. We, not me,” said Kanapi.