Will the Flying A migrate to Alaska?

Johnny Abarrientos is old. At 40, he should be trying out for a coaching spot in some professional or college league. He should be giving up and coming stars tips on how to improve their game. But there’s something wrong with him retiring…

He is still THAT good.

During the 2009-10 PBA season, the Flying A played in 14 games and averaged 3.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals, in 16.6 minutes. The season before, he played for one game and netted eight points and two assists. So what does this mean? Is this former MVP not ready to retire yet?

The answer is no.

Hell no.

Sure, Jeffrey Cariaso has retired. Known as The Jet, Cariaso was slowly eased out of rotation in the 34th season and was sporadically used in the 35th. He grumbled for minutes to no avail and the championship they got at the Fiesta Cup was his swan song.

Did you know that he has an ultra cool barber shop?

400 pesos for a haircut is nothing to the service he’ll bring you.

Anyway, during the 25th anniversary of the Alaska franchise, the Aces retired the jerseys of Bong Hawkins and Johnny Abarrientos. They are the fifth and sixth jerseys to be retired after Bogs Adornado, Jojo Lastimosa, Cariaso, and Sean Chambers. Except for Adornado, all were members of their 1996 Grand Slam team. Abarrientos has happy that the management awarded such feat after a publicized falling out. He also said that he wants to play for Alaska one final time before he retires from the sport.

And now, Wilfred Stephen Uytengsu wants to fulfill Johnny A’s wish.

So what’s stopping Johnny?

Currently, Abarrientos serves as assistant coach for the Baranggay Ginebra Kings. He is also the team’s reserve player. Whenever Jayjay Helterbrand, Mike Cortez, Celino Cruz, and even Mark Caguioa and Willie Miller get injured, he will be reactivated to try to fill their problem spots. Poor Flying A though, because Ginebra is terrifyingly abundant in this position! Cruz is expected to play minuscule minutes and the Kings further souped up their roster by drafting Jimbo Aquino, John Wilson, and Rob Lagabala (among the three, Aquino is the only player in the active roster). However gave the Flying A home in the later stages of his career after the Coca-Cola Tigers’ dismantlement (this was the period where Coke sent Reynel Hugnatan and Jeff Cariaso to Alaska and Ginebra got Rudy Hatfield, Rafi Reavis, and Billy Mamaril).

In short, there is NO chance that the Flying A will ever have a career as a King this season.

This is where Alaska steps in.

Tim Cone’s Alaska core isn’t as ferocious on paper as the SMC and Piltel franchises. This is why Cone and his team aren’t pleased at how the current landscape as well as the new tournament formats is conducted. They hate abusing the “little franchises” because they themselves are little.

And yet they are winning.

If Johnny A enters the fold, I don’t think he’ll displace LA Tenorio as the team’s main man. Tenorio almost won MVP honors last season and he is Tim Cone’s main man from that spot. He is what Cortez and Jon Ordonio weren’t (Ordonio and Peek were traded for Abarrientos and Poch Juinio) and what Johnny A was during the 90’s. However Tenorio always plays heavy minutes. Kelvin dela Pena should have been the team’s backup point guard but he can’t seem to upgrade his game to the next level. Previously, the Aces used Rensy Bajar and Dale Singson as backup PG's. Topex Robinson, another player coming out of retirement, hasn’t really figured on Cone’s plans. 

I bet Johnny A will.

Sure, Ginebra fans will miss Johnny A at their side but I bet they’ll love the day Johnny A will finally don the colors that made him arguably the best point guard in the history of the PBA. I hope Abarrientos gets it because it would be the perfect footnote of the contributions he made for the team as well as the league. I am sorry, but seeing him “replace” a star player and rue it as a comeback is NOT the way you use legends.

What Jeff Cariaso had… the way he told everyone that it would be his last season and the way the team made the Fiesta Cup their tribute to the Jet is HOW a player of his caliber should retire.

Deep inside I know players like Vergel Meneses, Nelson Asaytono and Bong Alvarez should have the same retirement.

And not how they were unceremoniously waived by teams that didn’t need them.

Johnny A deserves to have the perfect last season.

Go Johnny A… go and sign with Alaska.

Game over.    


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