By Jonas Terrado
Alaska, one of the PBA’s longest tenured teams, is in line to join an exclusive company: 1,000 victories.
The Aces are 24 wins shy of becoming the third team in the 45-year history of the pro loop to pull off the rare feat.
San Miguel Beer reached the milestone first in March 5, 2009, defeating Alaska 93-89 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. The Beermen currently have 1,355 victories since being one of the league’s charter members in 1975 as Royal Tru-Orange.
Ginebra pulled abreast last year after edging San Miguel in overtime 110-107 on June 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Kings, with 1,022 wins, were known as Gilbey’s Gin when they played their first PBA season in 1979.
Fred Uytengsu’s franchise debuted in 1986, reaching the semifinals in the Reinforced Conference followed by quarterfinal appearances in the All-Filipino and Open tournaments.
But it wasn’t until the arrival of American coach Tim Cone that the Milkmen began to find success, earning the status as the Team of the 90s by winning nine championships.
The high point of that decade was the PBA’s third Grand Slam in 1996 led by Cone, Most Valuable Player Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins, Jeffrey Cariaso and import Sean Chambers.
Alaska currently has 14 championships, tied with Magnolia for second all-time behind San Miguel’s 27.
Magnolia is a distant fourth in all-time victories with 881 while TNT KaTropa is fifth at 744. Shell (436), Great Taste (408), Crispa (403), Sta. Lucia (361) and Toyota (338) round out the top 10.
Active teams Rain or Shine is 13th (304), Meralco at 18th (183), NorthPort 20th (96). NLEX has 71 wins, Phoenix 54, Blackwater 49 and Columbian 45.
For the Aces to reach 1,000 wins as quick as possible, it will depend on two things: length of schedule and competitiveness.
The PBA Board of Governors has agreed to reduce the season currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic to one or two conferences, and the format of either scenario may delay the Aces’ chances of getting the milestone.
Alaska compiled 16 wins in the 2019 season, barely making the playoffs in all three conferences.