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Chasing A PBA Grand Slam: Crispa, San Miguel, And Alaska Provide The Blueprint For San Mig Coffee’s Quest

Only four teams have achieved the elusive season sweep in the 39-year history of the PBA. Can San Mig Coffee pull it off? We take a look back at the magical Grand Slam seasons of the Crispa Redmanizers, San Miguel Beermen, and Alaska Milkmen for the answer.
by Paolo S. Mariano | May 26, 2014
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Just when you’re still wrapping your head around what transpired in the 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Governor’s Cup is already upon us. Of course, the biggest storyline is San Mig Coffee’s pursuit of the prestigious Grand Slam. It’s like the Holy Grail, the Loch Ness Monster, a parking space in Makati, or whatever it is that’s highly elusive.

san mig coffee grand slam
Only four teams have swept a season in the league’s 39-year history. You don’t need to be a genius to realize how difficult it is to win three straight titles. Even in the NBA, only five squads have done it. As Pat Riley said during his time with the L.A. Lakers, the “Disease of More” will always come into play. Defending champions will always struggle the next tournament because every player will want more playing time, more shots, and more money.

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While that remains to be seen with the Mixers, they surely have a strenuous job ahead of them. Do they have what it takes to complete the hat trick? Let’s look at the past PBA Grand Slam teams and see how they managed to do it without having to kill each other (insert Renaldo Balkman joke here).


Head coach: Baby Dalupan
Key players:
Bogs Adornado, Atoy Co, Abet Guidaben, and Philip Cezar
Freddie Hubalde and Bernie Fabiosa
Cyrus Mann and Bill Bunton 

san mig coffee grand slamThe 1976 Crispa Redmanizers: a collection of godly talents with unkempt hair
(Image via

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Road to the Grand Slam: After losing in the finals to Toyota in the PBA’s first two conferences in its inaugural season in 1975, Crispa finally got its first title in the Open Conference (each team was reinforced by two imports) and exacted revenge on the Comets. That started the Redmanizers’ early dominance, despite wearing scrotum-suffocating short shorts.  

Their momentum carried over the following year as they made mincemeat of the competition, snatching all three championships at the expense of archrival Toyota, which they have played against in six straight finals. Crispa piled up an amazing 47-15 win-loss record (.758). The 6’2” Adornado, the league’s pioneer scoring machine, won his second straight MVP plum and another slot in the Mythical Five, along with Co and Cezar.    

FHM's galing-galingan analysis: The 1976 Redmanizers simply overwhelmed the competition with their offensive onslaught. Remember, it was only the league’s second season and competition wasn’t really that stiff. So any team with the likes of Adornado, Co, Guidaben, and Cezar will surely run roughshod over the opponents.

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But that’s not meant to belittle what Dalupan and his wards achieved. It’s never easy to win three straight titles, regardless of sport or competition (kahit sack race pa ‘yan). Some players tend to become complacent, some become more self-centered, some ask for more money, while some simply lose motivation. That’s why the Redmanizers’ three-title conquest is a true testament to their focus, selflessness, and desire.

san mig coffee champs...and willingness to do anything to win—yes, even
grabbing an opponent by the balls to get post position.
We hope you didn't squeeze too hard, Cyrus Mann!
(Image via

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Memorable sidelight: Early PBA fans should remember energetic import Cyrus Mann, who anchored Crispa’s defense during that season. A fourth round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 1975, Crispa brought him in after seeing him play for Palmeiras-Brazil in several exhibition games in the PBA. The 6’10” pivot was an intimidating presence with his shot-blocking ability. He didn’t need to score in bunches to be effective—perfect for the offensive-minded locals. Like most early imports, however, he was a head case. Eventually, Dalupan had to send him home for drug abuse.     

What they said: “With Crispa, we had so many good players that I was just happy when Coach Baby gave me playing time.” – Fabiosa to the Philippine Star

NEXT: Two powerhouse teams from the '80s!

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