IT all began 23 years ago with `The Call.’
“I was surprised myself. Wilfred (Uytengsu) just called me up from nowhere and asked me if I wanted to be (Alaska) team manager,” said Joaqui Trillo as he turned nostalgic recalling how his association with the only PBA franchise he ever worked for started.
“And he was offering me long term,” noted the Alaska executive.
Trillo has been working for five years as one of the popular analysts for Vintage Enterprises, the television coveror of the PBA back then, when the tempting offer came, so much so that he asked the no-nonsense Alaska owner - a former national team swimmer - to give him a full week to think about it.
When he finally relented, so began a solid partnership that lasted more than two decades and had its own shares of ups and downs.
Time flies so fast that a partnership that seemed forged only yesterday, is now coming to an end following Trillo’s informal retirement as the Aces’ team manager.
Trillo’s assistant, Richard Bachmann, will now assume the role he played with so much passion since 1989, just a few weeks after former coach Tim Cone was signed up.
“I will still watch the games with Fred, but I’m leaving all the nitty-gritty of managing the team to Dickie,” said Trillo.
The Alaska executive had been there through the good and bad times with the franchise.
He’s been part of all the 13 championships of the squad, including the 1996 grand slam team which Trillo considers as something special.
He’s also been there and stood by the organization when it parted ways with Cone after a long 22-year bond, a day considered one of the most agonizing in franchise history.
But Trillo is happy he’ll be leaving the team in good hands, especially with its young core of JV Casio, Cyrus Baguio, RJ Jazul, Gabby Espinas, Sonny Thoss, and rookie Calvin Abueva serving as the future of the Aces under the watchful eye of his son and coach Luigi Trillo.
“I think we’ve laid down the foundation of this new batch of Alaska team which I hope would be able to win a championship in the coming years,” said the elder Trillo.
Luigi, a longtime assistant to Cone before assuming the Aces’ head coaching job, said that while his father's retirement somehow eases the load a bit on his part, his presence will surely be missed.
“At least I can address him again as `Dad.' It’s rather awkward that I have to call him `Sir’ in front of people, but that’s the way it should be under the set-up,” the young Trillo admitted.
“But for someone you’ve worked with for a long time, I think I will miss him as (Alaska) team manager.”
And for sure, the entire Alaska franchise as well.