FOR Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu, it's all about tradition.
Uytengsu was one proud owner after the Aces clinched a 28th finals appearance in 29 seasons in the PBA by completing a sweep of Star in their Governors Cup playoff series with an 82-77 victory on Sunday night.
“This sweep is really kinda unimaginable," said Uytengsu, adding he takes pride in the way the Aces play more than the accomplishment itself. "I am very proud of the way we play. It’s, 'We, not me.' It’s, 'Stronger together.'”
The team owner stressed the joy wasn't even about Tim Cone, who led Alaska to its first 13 league championships and was on the opposite bench in this series.
“To me it’s just about getting to the finals. He (Cone) happened to be the opposing coach, just like any other coach. We’re happy to win,” he said.
“We played great all conference and coming to the playoffs, we played some very good teams and we played Star, which is obviously a well-coached team and a strong team at that.”
He later spoke before the team, one of the few remaining independent ballclubs in the league, even borrowing coach Alex Compton’s whiteboard and marker to stress his point.
“Gentlemen, 28 finals in 29 years. Great job,” Uytengsu said as the team erupted in wild applause.
“It’s something we are about - tradition. And tonight demonstrated that our legacy continues, something that we should be proud of since 1986, before some of you guys were born,” he said.
And after a short message to his players, Uytengsu scribbled on the white board what he wants the players to achieve for the ballclub and its legion of fans: 15 in 29.
“This is what it’s about. It’s about everyone stepping up, us coming together, us having each other’s back. And guys if we continue to play this way, it’s going to be 15 titles in 29 years,” Uytengsu said.
“We did not come here to show up at the finals. We came here so I get to give (championship) rings. Alright? Nothing’s gonna make me happier than giving you guys rings,” he said before shaking the hands of the players one by one.
Watch video of Uytengsu's post-game speech before the team:
Asked if he is already smelling his team’s 15th championship especially after a run to the finals that saw the Aces drop just three games, Uytengsu declared he is not yet satisfied.
“All we’ve done is get to the finals and as I’ve told the team, we’re happy to be there. But that’s not what it is all about. When you get to the finals, you’re there to win,” he said while insisting that he is not pressuring his players.
“I don’t give a pressure on them. They know what they’re there for. It’s our passion and it’s our objective to win. Whoever makes it to the finals, it’s going to be a tough opponent. We have to respect them but we’re there to win,” Uytengsu said.
Rookie Alex Compton readily accepted the challenge.
“He tells me what he thinks. He’s been here, I haven’t been here (championship). I’ve been coaching now just a little more than a year as head coach. So I welcome his input, so whether or not Fred will challenge us to win the 15th (championship), we’re here and we’re gonna go for it,” said Compton.
“I am not pressured. As a competitor, you expect to go after the championship, no matter who you are,” he added. “Kung may laban, dapat lumaban ka.”