MANILA - After winning their 13th crown, the Alaska Aces now set their sights on the 36th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup, which they won for the last time in 2000.

Coach Tim Cone expressed confidence that their victory over San Miguel Beer, 4-2, in the title series of the 35th Fiesta Conference on Wednesday, showed how LA Tenorio, Joe Devance, Mark Borboran and Cyrus Baguio have matured.

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“We are now looking towards the All-Filpino Cup and with Cyrus, LA and Mark already mature, I have great hope. Tony (De la Cruz) will take that leadership role, while the rest will step up,” said Cone, the architect of Alaska’s 13 conference titles,

which tied Crispa as the second winningest behind San Miguel’s 18.

Cone described his 13th title as the sweetest and because they had to face tough teams like Ginebra, Talk ‘N Text and the Beermen. They were also saddled by adversities along the way.

Finishing only at no. 4 at the end of the double-round elimination, the Aces went on to beat Ginebra, 3-2, in the quarterfinals to earn the right to face top seed Talk ‘N Text in the semis.

Despite losing twice to Talk N Text in the elims, the Aces proceeded to shock the Tropang Texters, 4-3, boosting their confidence ahead of the finals.

Injury

“Winning against great teams. Those against Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text were hard series to go through. This made our victory so special,” said Cone.

Then came the injury that sidelined 6’8” slotman Sonny Thoss for several games, including the first three in the finals. Tony dela Cruz also battled sore eyes in Game 6.

“In Games 5 and 6 against Talk ‘N Text, we lost Sonny Thoss in the semis series, which forced us to adjust with Tony (De la Cruz) and we manage won both games. But this time, Tony got sore eyes which shocked us. Suddenly we had to make adjustments again and put Sonny in the lineup. I am not a big believer in destiny but it is funny how things work out. We were able to control the board and that was so crucial,” said Cone.