A drink down memory lane

The San Miguel Beermen broke into Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as one of its pioneering teams in 1975. The franchise now under San Miguel Corporation (SMC) subsidiary San Miguel Brewery, Inc (SMB, Inc) has a total of 17 titles in the pro league to date.

San Miguel Beer had an auspicious start in the PBA in 1975. Bannered by Manny Paner, forward Estoy Estrada and point guard Yoyong Martirez, the team closed out the season with three third place finishes.

To top off the mild success, Paner and Estrada made it to the mythical team at the same season when they suited up high-scoring Carl Bird as import. Shooter Valerio de los Santos and Marte Samson would take over as the other team stalwarts from Paner and Estrada in 1977.



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SMB breaks Crispa-Toyota reign

It was in 1979 when the team collared its first PBA title with the help of the import tandem of 6'9" Otto Moore and 6'7" Larry Pounds. Ed Ocampo coached the team to the conquest over Toyota in the Open Conference to break the Toyota-Crispa title rivalry after Utex did the trick in 1978.

That championship team was composed of Tony Torrente, Yoyong Martirez, Jess Migalbin, Salvador Ramas, Melchor Ravanes, Rudy Lalota, Leo Paguntalan, ex-PSBA standout Ramon Dizon and Marlowe Jacutin.

Tommy Manotoc piloted the Beermen to their second crown as they annexed the 1982 PBA Invitational crown via a 2-1 conquest of Crispa to be followed by a second place finish to Toyota in the 1982 Reinforced Conference. Marte Saldana, coming from the MICAA ranks won Rookie of the Year honors and Norman Black won Best Import on that same year.


NCC stars in Magnolia, SMB teams

Following a lone third place finish in the 1983 and 1984 season, Magnolia placed second behind Toyota in the 1985 Open Conference. Following a leave of absence, the San Miguel franchise re-emerged under the Magnolia Cheese brand.

Seen to be an enduring force, the Magnolia squad absorbed the core of the famed Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC) team. These included Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, Franz Pumaren, Elmer Reyes, Yves Dignadice, Alfie Almario, Pido Jarencio and Tonichi Yturri in 1986.

The following year, former Crispa center Abet Guidaben and Ricardo Brown joined the team as Norman Black started his coaching career. After a string of third place finishes, Black would steer San Miguel to the Open Conference crown over Hills Brothers with Bobby Parks nailing Best Import honors and Guidaben getting the nod for his second MVP award.


A change of centers, grand slam

San Miguel went on to bag the 1988 Open Conference over Purefoods before El Presidente Ramon Fernandez brought his touch of elegance to the team in a celebrated trade with Guidaben that sent the latter to the Hotdogs.

Fernandez was the final piece in the Beermen's aim of league domination as the team gained the Reinforced crown over Shell, 4-1, as the former Toyota center also nailed his fourth and last Most Valuable Player Award.

The Beermen's charge went unabated the following year when they annexed three straight titles at the expense of Shell (Open, 4-1), Purefoods (All-Filipino,4-2) and Reinforced (Anejo, 4-3).

This made them that only other team, other than Crispa (1976 and 1983) to bag a trifecta in a single season before Alaska did the same in 1996.


Fresh ammunition comes in

The 90's would be first marked by the acquisition of new gunners in the person of Ato Agustin and Allan Caidic.

With injuries hobbling the Beermen regulars, Agustin notched the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award as they pounced on Purefoods en route to the 1992 PBA All Filipino Cup.

Allan Caidic, member of the NCC teams from which comprise the San Miguel core, joined the Beermen in 1993 as the newfound strength enabled them to win a 10th PBA title via 4-1 win over Swift Mighty Meaty in the Governors Cup.

The feat allowed them to surpass legendary Toyota in the all-time list.


Playing for the country

San Miguel Beer was tapped to compete in the 1994 Asian Games after taking the 1994 All-Filipino Cup over Coney Island, 4-2.

With most its stars ailing, the team was fortified with Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera, Rey Evangelista and Johnny Abarrientos from the pros and amateurs Marlou Aquino and Kenneth Duremdes.

The team placed forth behind China, Korea, and Japan as leading scorer Allan Caidic was named in the Asiad All-Star Mythical Five Team.

Fernandez, who was part of the 1990 Asiad team which won the silver medal behind China, announced his retirement to cap 20 colorful years in the pro league.


Jacobs holds the reins

Scorer Nelson Asaytono joined the team following a trade with Agustin while exciting import Lamont Strothers displayed his wares in the 1996 Governors Cup, where the team placed third. Before that, San Miguel copped the third place trophy in the All Filipino.

Later in the season NCC coach Ron Jacobs would take over when long-time coach Norman Black left the team.

The 1997 season saw the team in a rebuilding mode with players like Olsen Racela, Mike Mustre and Freddie Abuda mixed with Nelson Asaytono, Bong Alvarez, Yves Dignadice and Art Dela Cruz. Jeff Ward and Larry Robinson were the reinforcement on that year.

Interestingly, San Miguel placed third in all three conferences. For his bench wizardly in turning around a weak team into a strong contender, Jacobs was named Coach of the Year by the PBA Press Corps.


Building around two Dannys

National University standout Danny Ildefonso entered the San Miguel Beer fold when he was drafted and traded in exchange for 1998 SMB draftee Noy Castillo.

SMB placed second in the All Filipino and the Commissioners Cups before Jacobs decided to hand over the chores to assistant coach and former NCC protégé Jong Uichico.

Uichico directly hired Danny Seigle, younger brother of then Mobiline center Andy, and former Pop Cola guard Boybits Victoria to boost the team. The immediate results came in during the Commissioner Cup with Terquin Mott in tow. With Asaytono exchanged for the pair of Nic Belasco and Dwight Lago, the Beermen made inroads by ousting Alaska in the semis and then beating Shell, 4-2, for the 12th PBA crown and its first in five years.

Strothers was back for another tour of duty in the Governors Cup, in which the Beermen bounced back from a 2-1 deficit to nail a second straight championship in six games.

Seigle cemented his stature with the team by winning Rookie of the Year.


The millennium squad

In 2000, San Miguel made a successful defense of the Commissioner's Cup trophy with the help of NBA veteran Stephen Howard at the expense of Sta. Lucia.

Strothers will then carry the team anew in the Governors' Cup as the Beermen defeated Purefoods in five games for the 15th PBA title. Ildefonso won his first Most Valuable Player Award.

The team's newfound local strength will manifest itself anew in the 2001 All Filipino finals against prized rookie Mark Caguioa and Barangay Ginebra. SMB took home the crown in six games, the first feat by an all-local crew in seven years.

Ildefonso, meanwhile won his second consecutive MVP in 2001, making him the first back-to-back winner after Alvin Patrimonio.

Ildefonso, Racela, newly-acquired Dondon Hontiveros, Seigle and coach Jong Uichico served in the Philippine team that competed in the 2002 Busan Asiad.


Back on the front seat

Chris Burgess powered SMB in the 2004-2005 Fiesta Conference semis before he was replaced by Ace Custis, who powered the Beermen to the finals against the Talk N' Text Phone Pals.

SMB won, 4-1, for its 17th PBA crown and to also end a four-year title drought. Uichico earned his sixth PBA crown as coach.

In the 2005-06 Fiesta Conference, SMB acquired former Shell Turbo Charger Chris Calaguio, Brandon Cablay (in exchange for veteran forward Nic Belasco) and Wesley Gonzales from Air21 Express (in a three-way deal that sent Eugene Tejada to Purefoods).


Back on the front seat

San Miguel coach Jong Uichico was sent to sister team Barangay Ginebra as national head coach Chot Reyes was tapped to fill in his shoes. He picked LA Tenorio (fourth overall pick) and Gabby Espinas (fifth overall pick) to boost the team.

With the injuries to Seigle and Ildefonso early in the season, the Beermen netted Rommel Adducul and Lordy Tugade from Ginebra and Red Bull, respectively, in a three-team trade.

The move earned instant success as San Miguel won 13 of the next 15 games for an outright semis berth. But after taking a 2-0 lead, SMB lost the title Philippine Cup crown to eventual champion Barangay Ginebra Kings in six games.


Yet unfolding

Former Ginebra head coach and then assistant coach Siot Tanquincen eventually moved to the Beermen to be its interim tactician. During his term, the Beermen got Enrico Villanueva from Red Bull after shipping Romel Adducul who ended up with Purefoods.

After two decades as the San Miguel Beermen, the team would be briefly renamed as the Magnolia Beverage Masters in the 2007-08 PBA season. Tanquincen acquired Larry Fonacier from Red Bull and also picked Samigue Eman and Jonas Villanueva in the first round of the 2007 PBA Draft.

Beverage Masters LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier had to go as former First Over-all pick Mike Cortez and potential star Ken Bono took over their places in the team after a celebrated trade.

Magnolia took in Marc Pingris from Purefoods in exchange for a future draft choice.

Known anew as the Beermen, they would continue to evolve into a complete champion team with the acquisition of Jay Washington from Talk 'n Text in exchange for original draft choice Jason Castro.

Six-foot-two point Guard Bonbon Custodio was picked from the draft while tough defensive forward Mick Pennisi was secured from Red Bull in exchange for their 2010 1st Round draft pick.


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