As a sportswriter, one of the perks I enjoy the most is talking and learning from legendary figures in sports.
Just last Thursday, I got the chance to chat with legendary PBA import Sean Chambers during Alaska’s celebration of its three decades of existence in the pro league at the Enderun College in Taguig City.
Chambers, now 50, may have added significant weight since retiring after the 2001 season, but he fondly talks about his PBA experience with Alaska as if everything just happened yesterday.
Among the many things he talked about, Chambers shared that the secret to Alaska’s overall success (the Aces are the third winningest franchise in PBA history with 14 championships since joining the league in 1986) was the brotherhood and the commitment to winning.
“Just great to see all my old teammates with Jojo (Lastimosa), Bong (Hawkins) and Poch (Juinio) and see all the wonderful staff and just to stay connected because those are the guys you love like your brother,” he said.
“You won many games with them. You practice hard and it’s so great to come back and be part of the Alaska organization.”
He may be thousands of miles away from Lastimosa and Co. since retiring over a decade ago. But in the advent of fast-paced internet connection, Chambers manages to stay in touch with his former Alaska teammates on a regular basis.
“We are more like family. Jojo, Bong and Johnny (Abarrientos), those guys, we stay connected even when I’m in the States.”
Chambers won six PBA championships with Alaska, but refused to take the credit for that.
“Not only did I have success, but remember, I played with Johnny, the best point guard (in the PBA at that time). Jolas was the best two-guard, and Bong was the best four-man in the league. I was very lucky at that to play with the best team in the 90s,” beamed Chambers, now working as an assistant principal in a middle school in Sacramento.
Today, watching the Aces play remains part of his schedule.
“With what I’m able to do with social media. I follow them. And just be able to watch them on live stream…In those days, sometimes, I wake up and 3 a.m. and my wife would ask me, ‘what I‘ve been doing, yelling and screaming at the computer,” he shared.
Personally, my own recollection of Chambers was, he’s the type of import who can defend bigger, stronger players.
Countless times in his PBA career, then Alaska coach Tim Cone had to bring him in whenever the Milkmen (the Aces’ former moniker) had problems with their import.
He uses his quickness to defend and at the same time, outmaneuver his defender every time he goes to the basket.
Chambers may not be the type of import who will score 50 points with regularity (because he played in an era where imports can score that much with regularity), but he makes sure everybody gets involved in the play.
No wonder, the stocky former Alaska import won multiple PBA titles and stood at the forefront of the Milkmen’s Grand Slam championship run in the 1996 season.
At present, Chambers is listed no. 3 in both all-time scoring leaders (8,225) and all-time rebounds (3,253) among imports.
Chambers also finished no. 7 in the pro league’s all-time best scoring averages (30.5 points per game) among imports and sixth in all-time best rebounding averages (12.0).
He had his no. 20 jersey retired in 2001 by Alaska.