BEFORE Alaska broke the news that it will be leaving the PBA after 35 seasons, one of the first persons that owner Wilfred Uytengsu informed about the development was no less than its longtime import Sean Chambers.
Chambers made the revelation during Thursday’s Zoom In episode on SPIN from his home in California. But while it brought him sadness, he was honored by the team owner's gesture.
The six-time PBA champion said that, on the day of the announcement, he received an SMS message from Uytengsu asking if he had time to speak on the phone. Chambers said already had a hunch on what the conversation would be all about.
“The one thing that struck me and made me feel so appreciated and made me feel honored was that Mr. Uytengsu sent me a text message yesterday and said he wanted to talk to me. And I instantly felt like, ‘Oh man, something is not good, I think.’”
“I said, ‘Please call me right away.’ So he calls me in about 10 minutes and he goes ‘Chambers’, and I go, ‘Let me guess, you sold the team.’ And he goes, ‘No, I didn’t sell it but this is definitely our last conference.’
“And I can tell he was getting a little emotional. And he was like, I just want you to know from me. I want you to be one of the first to hear it. I don’t want you to hear it from anybody else.
'Finish with a bang'
"We are going to make this our last conference and finish with a bang and he wanted me to hear it first before I heard it from a news outlet or from anybody else,” said Chambers.
Chambers said he was touched by the gesture.
“I don’t know any other import that played in the PBA that is going to get a phone call from the team owner to let him know they’re gonna no longer have a team. That spoke volumes to me of our relationship that we built over these years.
"The fact that he took the time out. I’m the import, I’m here in California being a principal of a middle school and Fred still took the timeout to call me and say, ‘Hey, I want you to hear from me first.’”
Like most of the persons associated with the franchise, Chambers, a member of the 1996 grand slam team, said the news felt like losing a family member.
“It’s like losing a family member. It’s been a part of my life since I’ve been 24 years old,” said Chambers, now 56. “Alaska brought me over to take over, replacing an import and from then on, I have been part of the organization until my retirement.
"I still able to work as consultant under Mr. Uytengsu and worked with the coaching staff and continue to be a part of the Alaska family. I think with Mr. Uytengsu stated in his message that although this is definitely heartbreaking, it’s hard to see the team go, but the memories, the championships, the brotherhood with one another, it will last a lifetime.
"Our legacy will live on forever,” said Chambers.
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