THE PBA need not look far if it is to induct a new batch of players and personalities into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Former Best Import Sean Chambers vouched for his former teammates at Alaska who he said deserve a place in the honored list of individuals who excelled in the rich history of Asia’s pioneering pro league.
It is a puzzle to the longtime resident import of Alaska that no one among his contemporaries has earned a rightful place in the Hall ofFame, which was instituted by the PBA in 2005.
While the likes of former Alaska cagers Bogs Adornado and Abet Guidaben had been inducted into the Hall, the two greats actually spent playing their prime years while still with other teams.
For Chambers, there are several Aces from the team that dominated the 90s – capped by a coveted grand slam – who he believe deserved to be called Hall of Famers.
“I have one take and it may be a bit controversial right now, but I do believe that just as great as the Alaska team was, and as great as our guys had been, that we don’t have one Alaska player in the PBA Hall of Fame. We need to get that fixed somewhere, somehow.
“That is factual. Not Johnny (Abarrientos), not Bong (Hawkins), not Jolas (Jojo Lastimosa). Nobody,” said the now-retired, 55-year-old import in raising his point during a recent episode of the Power&Play radio program.
Former league commissioner Noli Eala, who hosted the show, was just as surprised.
"Is that so? Really?" asked the esteemed broadcaster.
Incidentally, it was during Eala’s term when the PBA recognized its first ever batch of Hall of Famers.
Current commissioner Willie Marcial recently expressed interest in reviving the HoF, which last held its ceremony in 2013 by welcoming the duo of Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc, the late scoring hotshot Lim Eng Beng, and legendary coach Ed Ocampo.
Chambers, only the second recipient of the PBA’s Mr. 100 percent Award, remembered being at the Smart Araneta Coliseum for the ceremony.
All those great Alaska players deserve the same honor, he said.
“As individual players, there‘s not an Alaska player in the Hall of Fame. That has got to be fixed,” said the six-time PBA champion.
The record will bear out what that Alaska team achieved as a unit.
From 1994 to 1996, the Aces made the finals eight straight times.
Out of the eight, they won five championships including four consecutive from the 1995 Governors Cup all the way to the grand slam season of 1996.
In their grand slam year, Abarrientos was named season MVP, and made the Mythical Team along with Lastimosa and Hawkins (1996 Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference). Abarrientos was also a member of the All-Defensive Team together with Jeff Cariaso (adjudged 1995 Rookie of the Year and 1996 Mythical Second Team), while unheralded big man Poch Juinio was the league’s Most Improved Player.
Chambers himself was Best Import of the Governors Cup.
That same season, Tim Cone was hailed Coach of the Year by the PBA Press Corps, which also named Alaska back-up guard Jun Reyes as Mr. Quality Minutes.
“None of us were playing for those accolades. We were all playing for each other, but that’s the result of it,” said Chambers, who were joined by teammates Cariaso, now the head coach of the Aces, and Juinio during the program.
The Aces were indeed, the Team of the 90s that Chambers believed that grand slam unit can likewise qualify as one in the HoF.
“Even if we all come in as a unit, the whole team, or whatever,” he said.
“This is what you accomplished when you do things as a unit. When you do things with the same purpose and goals in mind, you win and become successful.”
Chambers can rest his case. The ball is now in the hands of the PBA.