JOJO Lastimosa disclosed the core of the Alaska team that won one championship after another in the 90s and 2000s, remain in constant touch with each other and would hold reunions from time to time to reminisce about the good time.
Now, expect their get-together to become a regular thing.
With the Alaska franchise playing in its final PBA conference this season, Lastimosa sees the group of Aces gathering together again and recalling the good, old days when the team was the toast in Asia’s first-ever play-for-pay league.
“For sure. I think we’re doing it again sometime maybe this year. That’s a possibility,” said the 57-year-old cage great, now a part of the NLEX coaching staff.
“We’re still in contact with the guys. We have our own Viber group. We keep in touch with each other. Even the generation that came after us, they’re still there like si Willie (Miller), si Ken (Kenneth Duremdes), although nagkasama na rin naman kami ni Ken.”
The last time the group held its reunion was seven years ago, according to Jolas, when he opened their home to them by hosting the affair.
“I was looking at some pictures. Buhay pa si coach Aric (Del Rosario) at that time,” said Lastimosa, who suited up for the franchise from 1991 to 1999 and became one focal point of the team’s so-called Big Three along with Johnny Abarrientos and Bong Hawkins.
On Wednesday, Alaska announced it is finally bowing out of the league following a decorated 35-year stay whose highlight came in the 1996 season when it won the rare grand slam.
Jojo Lastimosa on Alaska disbandment
Lastimosa admitted he was stunned as everybody was with the announcement officially made by no less than team owner Wilfred Uytengsu.
While Jolas said he’s already been hearing about talks of the franchise exiting the PBA, the next was just as surprising to him the moment he got wind of it.
“I knew this was coming three or four years ago,” he said. “But this morning was still a bit of a surprise hearing that news. I knew that eventually this was going to happen, but I didn’t know that it will happen this soon.”
Lastimosa came on board with the General Milling franchise in 1991 following a trade with Boy Cabahug with Purefoods.
The move to acquire one of the rising superstars in the league back then immediately paid off when Lastimosa steered the team to its first-ever championship during the 1991 Third Conference.
It definitely was a special moment for Jolas.
“I was with Sean (Chambers), Bong Alvarez, Frankie Lim was our point guard. Eugene Quilban was also there as our point guard. Of course, the first will always be historic and unforgettable. I was part of that first championship for Alaska. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there in the last championship,” he said.
Lastimosa ended up winning nine of his 10 league championships with the Uytengsu-owned ballclub.
But more than that maiden title, Lastimosa always looked back with fondest memories to all those championship celebration.
“It’s always the celebration of course. I’m not gonna say that I enjoyed the practices and all that. It was hard,” he said. “It was hard, but it was part of the journey. The fruit of those hard work is always the best part. Winning the championships and the post-celebrations, those trips with the families, those are really on another level.”
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