When the PBA Governors' Cup kicks off late next month, Alex Compton will no longer be shouting instructions from the bench as head coach of the multi-titled Alaska Aces.
Instead, it will be assistant coach Jeffrey Cariaso who will be taking over as head of the Aces' coaching staff in the biggest news to hog the league thus far ahead of the opening of the third and final conference of the season.
"We are very sorry to see Alex leave the team. He had a tremendous impact on the team and was very concerned with the players' well-being on and off the court," said team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu in a statement sent to media outlets yesterday.
Thus ended the five-year stint at the Aces for Compton, a friendly, likeable guy who led the Aces to five Finals appearances, the last during the 2018 Governors' Cup where he led Alaska to a runner-up finish behind Magnolia.
His assistants, Eric Altamirano and Paulo Layug, have also stepped down, leaving Cariaso with Tony dela Cruz, Monch Gavieres, Danny Ildefonso and Franco Atienza in his staff.
Uytengsu personally asked Compton to relinquish his post, a development which, though painful, the latter wholeheartedly accepted.
"Yesterday at his house, a man I deeply respect, Fred Uytengsu, sat down with me, looked me in the eye, and asked me to step down," Compton said in the same statement issued by Alaska.
"I accepted his direction and have agreed to resign as head coach of the Alaska Aces. It has been an honor for me to coach such a storied franchise. I have made great relationships and a lot of love for people in the organization. Being a part of the Alaska family has meant a lot to me and my family, and we will always treasure our time with the Aces."
Rumors of an Alaska plan to replace Compton surfaced as early as last year, but Compton kept his post, apparently given a second chance to make amends.
"We also share that winning with integrity is an important aspect of our team and are grateful that Alex stepped aside to pave the way for someone else to lead the Aces to our next championship," Uytengsu said.
"(Cariaso) has the full trust of the management and we trust the team will likewise work hard and support him."
Cariaso has already accepted the appointment, saying: "Truly a blessing to elevate into this level of leadership. I am honored for the opportunity and genuinely humbled as I face the challenge."
A former Rookie of the Year and a one-time Best Player of the Conference, the 46-year-old won seven championships in his 15-year PBA career, three with the Alaska franchise during its famed Grand Slam in 1996. He also saw action for Mobiline, Tanduay, and Coca-Cola, before returning to o Alaska for his final six playing years.
"We also hope Jeff will become the first Alaska player to win championships both as a player and as a head coach," Uytengsu further said.
Cariaso has been the deputy head coach for Alaska and has previously served as the head coach for Ginebra back in 2014.