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Ashaolu looks to give Alaska one last shot at glory


Olu Ashaolu fully understands the gravity of Alaska’s decision to leave the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after over three decades.

Although this is only his third stint in Asia’s pioneering pro league since 2018, the 33-year-old cager has known well enough that the team he’s currently playing for is indeed one of the most esteemed ball clubs in local sports.

“You know, not being a local Filipino, but doing my research, I understand that the Aces are one of the most storied franchises, and it’s a sad day that this team is leaving the PBA,” said Ashaolu, formerly of NLEX.

The nine-year pro felt for the entire Aces when the organization on Wednesday announced its exit after the ongoing Governors’ Cup.

But as tough as it was, it wasn’t lost on the entire team that there remains one more conference to play on before riding off into the sunset after 36 fruitful years in the league, which saw them win 14 championships.

“We could do two things: We can go back and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can, you know, muster up some energy and say, let’s go out with a bang,” said Ashaolu. “And that’s our mentality.

Well, Alaska did exemplify the latter. A day after the shocking announcement, The Milkmen eked out a gritty 80-74 win over Henry Walker and Rain or Shine to start off their final hurrah on a triumphant note.

Ashaolu himself was at the forefront of the victory with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, on top of 17 rebounds and four assists in a performance that saw him deliver in the clutch to repulse the Elasto Painters.

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This is now their second win in a row, and are currently at third in the standings with a 4-2 card. Making it all the more impressive is the fact that they’ve done it with a few new additions after losing Rodney Brondial to free agency.

Veteran big man Bryan Faundo made his PBA return thanks to the Aces, while Gilas draftee Allyn Bulanadi finally made his pro debut.

Ashaolu offered that there are still lots to be done in terms of jelling with the new faces’ arrival, but that doesn’t make him less confident of their chances against the other teams as they shoot for a memorable exit in the league.

“We lost a few players in unfortunate circumstances, we got some new guys coming in [and they need to] kinda gel, so we’re trying to bring them along and join our identity as a team, you know, defensively, toughness,” he said.

“We think we can play with any team in this league, so every game is gonna be a challenge but we think we can compete with anybody.”

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The second game of each playdate is also livestreamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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