We've said this before: The PBA is like a telenovela for men, and there's no better example than the messy, drama-filled Petronovela!
Just 144 hours after the PBA Philippine Cup closed its curtains, the Commissioner’s Cup is already in full swing. Yes, agad-agad! Of course, another conference means another season of the league’s highest-rated drama, Petronovela, which stars the Petron Blaze Boosters. The bitter losses! The public feuds! The surprise trades! What was once a proud franchise had tragically transformed into the league’s most dysfunctional crew. An intriguing storyline, we say!
But with the team’s name reverting back to San Miguel Beermeen, we all have to think of another title. Sham Miguel? Beer-o-drama? Sorry, we couldn’t think of better ones. With the change, the players, coaches, and most especially, the fans hope that all the drama, acrimony, and other negative vibes that defined Petronovela are now erased from the script.
Most soap operas, however, have never-ending twists. That’s what makes them compelling. Will a superstar ask for a trade? Will another import go bonkers and strangle all of his teammates? We’ll never know. In the meantime, let’s take a look back at some of the more memorable episodes of Petronovela. Prepare to cringe and cry at the same time, hoops fans
EPISODE 1: "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONSHIP"
Aired: March 2011
Like most telenovelas, Petronovela started on a fairly innocent note. After finishing dead last (worst in team history) in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup and trading longtime stars Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros, and Dorian Peña, the San Miguel franchise decided that it needed a fresh start. So before the Governor’s Cup, the team was renamed the Petron Blaze Boosters.
It proved to be a stroke of genius (or lucky coincidence) as the Boosters, led by import Anthony Grundy, won the title over heavily favored Talk ‘N Text in seven games. Ato Agustin became the ninth rookie coach to win a PBA crown. It was another milestone for the storied franchise. Happy times! Or was it?
EPISODE 2: "A TELLING TWEET"
Aired: July 2012
Petron’s momentum after winning the 2011 Governor’s Cup quickly fizzled out the following season. The team lost in the semifinals of the Philippine Cup and then finished a woeful ninth in the following Commissioner’s Cup. Rumors of a simmering feud between Arwind Santos and Jay Washington surfaced, with both stars allegedly unhappy with sharing touches.
Photo credit: Spin.ph
In the 2012 Governor’s Cup, the problems worsened with the Boosters consistently blowing up winnable games. It led to a tweet from then-assistant coach Olsen Racela, which questioned the team’s attitude: “Hay naku! PUSO!!! Kung hanggang third quarter lang sana ang PBA, nag grand slam na siguro ang Petron!” Hala!
EPISODE 3: "ATO OUT, OLSEN IN"
Aired: August 2012
Just three conferences after giving the SMB franchise its 19th title, Agustin was given the pink slip. The candidates for his replacement were down to two: Racela and team consultant Rajko Toroman. There were already talks that the Boosters weren’t in favor of the Serbian’s strict approach to the game.
Photo credit: Spin.ph
In the end, Racela got the nod. Team manager Hector Calma said in an interview with Interaktv.com that it was a management decision. But his other comment seemed to tell otherwise: “We don’t know what to expect now, but we know Olsen has clout among the players, particularly the veterans.” So who really made the decision?
EPISODE 4: "THE SANTOS VS. CABAGNOT DILEMMA"
Aired: October 2012
As usual, the loaded and healthy Boosters were one of the favorites in the 2012-2013 Philippine Cup. They, however, lost three of their first four games. After their latest setback, an 88-86 decision to Alaska, Santos called out his teammates, specifically co-team captain Alex Cabagnot: “Kulang kami sa puso. May maliliit na bagay na importante pero hindi namin nagagawa. Dapat kapag gipitan na ang situation, guards should know when to take over. In our case, dapat kay Alex na responsibility 'yun.”
Photo credit: Spin.ph
Cabagnot didn’t take offense to the criticism. He even responded in the Boosters’ next game and carried them over Brgy. Ginebra. But to observers, Santos’ statements said a lot about the frustrations and friction inside the Petron locker room.
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