During his playing days, he was considered a remorseless assassin.
He was a cold-blooded hitter, a shooter with no conscience. It didn’t come as a surprise he wound up as one of only six players to hit 1,000 three-point shots in his entire PBA career.
Who could forget that dagger trey in the closing seconds of Game 5 of the 1990 Third Conference championship showdown between Purefoods and Alaska? That shot from the right quarter court served as the winning basket that enabled the Hotdogs to end three frustrating years of being the bridesmaid.
For many years, he was instrumental in his team’s championship runs—with Swift/Sunkist and Mobiline, where his shooting prowess was crucial. He would embrace that role until he retired 10 years after before retiring from playing in the PBA.
That man was Al Solis.
However, Solis did retire from playing in the PBA with a bang and he became one of a few players to hit 1,000 Three-Point Shots during his last tour of duty with then expansion team Batang Red Bull handled by his old coach, Yeng Guiao.
“Hindi ko ito inaasahan, kasi noong Year 2000 pa-retire na ako galing sa Talk ‘N Text. Pero may tumawag sa akin sa PBA para palaruin pa ako ng isang taon para makuha mo ‘yung 1,000 Three-Point shots. Twelve three-point shots na lang kailangan ko. Ang ginawa ko, lumapit ako kay (Coach) Yeng Guiao. Binigyan niya ako ng isang conference sa Red Bull,” said Solis. “At that time, ‘yung minutes ko, two minutes lang, bibigyan ako ng chance ni Coach Yeng. Sa two minutes, minsan makakapasok ako ng isa, minsan dalawa, tatlo, ganu’n. Pero there was a time nagkalaban kami ng Sta. Lucia. It was a no-bearing game dahil pasok na kami. Binigyan ako ni Coach Yeng ng minutes na medyo mataas kaya nakuha ko.”
After retiring from the PBA, Solis did have a cameo role as a player of the Cebu Gems. He then joined Boy Cabahug in the coaching staff of the UV Lancers that won nine straight championships, before simply fading away from the spotlight. He assumed a higher calling, one that is not considered profitable, but is regarded as priceless by faith.
Solis turned down coaching offers from mainstream basketball leagues. He passed up on the opportunity of taking over the coaching chores of Granny Goose in the PBL as well as the assistant coaching job at Red Bull, presented to him by Guiao.
Instead, he embraced the more challenging role as head coach of a ministry—the (ACES) Athletes For Christ In Excellent Service. There, Solis was able to renew his faith where his talent was harness by God and basketball was used as an instrument to serve thru this sport.
The once deadshot gunner, the shooter with no conscience, and a player who was being paid to play the hit man’s role, is now embarking on the next chapter of his life.
Years after his playing career ended, Solis turned to God and allowed the Lord to carry him to his next destination.
“I asked God, sinabi ko ‘Lord ikaw na bahala kung saan mo ko dadalhin’,” said Solis during his interview with The Link Podcast. “Imagine, big money ‘yung offer sa PBA as an assistant coach, then head coach ka sa PBL. Itong sa ACES, ang offer is by faith. Wala kang bayad. Para sa Panginoon. For me, it’s a miracle na doon ako dinala ng Panginoon. Iba pala ‘yung purpose niya. Ang purpose niya is to use my talent, the gift na ibinigay niya sa akin, which is basketball, to be able to share it to the youth, to the young generation, para makilala nila si Jesus Christ sa buhay nila.”
Until now, Solis continuously coaches this sports ministry. He won’t stop as long as God wants him to carry on with this journey.