(Solar Sports Desk) - As soon as the Commissioner’s Cup finalists were settled, people instantly talked about the supposed long championship history between the Alaska Aces and Barangay Ginebra.
Actually, there were only four instances, including the 1988 PBA/IBA pocket tournament, when Alaska and Ginebra, then known as Anejo Rhum Masters, faced off in a championship series with both squads winning two apiece.
That PBA/IBA gig was a memorable one as it was the only time the late great Bobby Parks suited up for Ginebra as their import on-loan from Shell.
This short but intense rivalry probably started in that tournament as the Alaska Milkmen, reinforced by two Americans Willie Bland (that tournament’s slam dunk champion) and Eddie Cox bowed to Anejo 128-126 in an exciting one game championship match.
Alaska, got its payback three years later when the Aces scored a 3-1 championship series victory over Ginebra to grab the 1991 Third Conference crown.
That series was a highly-touted match as both teams were led by superstar imports, with Sean Chambers suiting up for Alaska while former Los Angeles Lakers guard Wes Matthews leading the charge for Ginebra.
Five years later, they again met this time in a best-of-seven series with the Milkmen winning the first three games before Ginebra won its only game of the series in Game 4. Alaska ended the series in five games.
The following year, Ginebra edged Alaska, 4-2 in their 1997 Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven title showdown.
Wednesday night, Ginebra and Alaska will officially start their best-of-five Commissioner’s Cup title series, a match-up that is considered by solid followers of both squads as a continuation of their short but cherished battle.
During the pre-Finals press conference held Tuesday at the Sambokojin Restaurant in Eastwood, coaches of both squads were a bit cordial with their responses although both Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra and Luigi Trillo of Alaska have claimed that their respective teams have that hunger to win the series.
“The key here is kung sino ang gustong manalo. This is my first conference as coach of Ginebra and ngayon lang ako kinikilabutan ng ganito ever since I coached in the PBA,” said Chua.
Among the concerns of Trillo is the re-emergence of Ginebra’s veterans led by Kerby Raymundo and former league MVP Jayjay Helterbrand.
“The stakes are higher because the ultimate goal is to win the championship. For both teams, concentration becomes important,” said Trillo.
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Pia Hontiveros, Chief Correspondent and anchor of Solar Network News and News.Ph, presents the Solar News and Current Affairs year-ender special: On the Cusp of Change. A deafening silence, not out of a loss for words but a grief that cannot be spoken, for thousands lost to a super typhoon ... A muted pain from a powerful tremor that violently shook the heart of the nation ... An unspeakable anger over pork barrel that fueled a political maelstrom ... These and other stories from the extraordinary challenging year that was.