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The Most Heated Rivalries Between Sister Teams In The PBA Finals

They say your best friend is also your worst enemy
by Jay P. Mercado | Jul 24, 2018
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It's not uncommon to see teams coming from one conglomerate to be part of the PBA, Asia's first play-for-pay league. It remains to be a viable marketing vehicle, and big companies allocate a major chunk of its advertising budget to run a basketball team.

When companies have more than one team in the league, the impression is that they'll help with each other's campaign. How many times have sister teams been accused of giving way to the other, especially when one team badly needs a win?

Curiously, though, these affiliated squads have redefined what "familial love" is all about. Some have found themselves protagonists in the PBA Finals, engaging each other in heated rivalries. FHM lists down the nine times when sister teams figured against each other in a title series.

Toyota vs Filmanbank (1978 All-Filipino)

The very first sister teams in PBA history, the Ricardo Silverio-owned companies figured in the Philippine championship. The Toyota Tamaraws defeated rookie team Filmanbank Bankers (3-1) for their 4th title. The latter secured their franchise after buying 7/Up's at the end of the 1977 season. As a new team, they were allowed an import in the 6'6" Billy Robinson, who collaborated with stars like Jun Papa, Larry Mumar, and Jimmy Mariano, to give the Bankers a shot at the title. Too bad they went up against a motivated Tamaraws team, led by Robert Jaworski, as Filmanbank didn't get enough bench contribution.

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San Miguel vs Añejo Rum (1989 Reinforced)

The San Miguel Beermen won the first two titles of the season and were on the cusp of capturing the Grand Slam. Sister team Añejo Rum, which was secured by the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) in 1987 as part of its purchase of La Tondeña Distillers, Inc. (LTDI), served as the roadblock to SMB's bid. But there was no stopping San Miguel as they romped away (4-1) with the crown. Ricardo Brown put the clamps on the prolific 65ers reinforcement Carlos Briggs, while Ennis Whatley, Hector Calma, Samboy Lim, and Ramon Fernandez helped coach Norman Black earn a fourth consecutive title and establish the Beermen as the dynasty team of the late '80s.

San Miguel vs Ginebra (2001 All-Filipino)

San Miguel came into this series as the odds-on favorite, demolishing Pop Cola in the semifinals, while the Barangay Ginebra Kings struggled against Shell. With Ron Jacobs being a consultant for both teams, he opted to stay neutral in the Finals and allowed his wards, SMB's Joseph Uichico and Ginebra's Allan Caidic, to be on their own (Jacobs served as a guest broadcast analyst). The Beermen dominated the first two meetings while limiting the Kings to a measly 73.5 points per game. But Ginebra woke up in the next two, increasing their point average to 81, as compared to San Miguel's 72. Game 5 turned out to be pivotal, as SMB withstood Mark Caguioa's then-career-high 30 points in overtime, 96-95, courtesy of Danny Ildefonso's two free throws. The loss was a bitter pill for the Kings, who failed to recover and suffered a rout in their next outing, 95-75, at the hands of fourth-time Finals MVP Danny Seigle (31 points).

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Coca-Cola vs San Miguel (2003 Reinforced)

The Coca-Cola brand was initially distributed by SMC from 1927 up to 1998. It sold its stake to the Coca-Cola HBC. They eventually re-secured their rights to Coke in 2001, and after buying the Cosmos brand from RFM that year, became the owner of four PBA teams. It didn't take long before the Coca-Coca Tigers emerged as a league powerhouse under Chot Reyes, winning the 2002 All-Filipino, then upsetting the Beermen in the 2003 Reinforced. San Miguel was actually ahead in the series (2-1), but lost Games 4 and 5 in close matches. SMB would tie things at three apiece, before Tigers import Tee McClary took over in the do-or-die, scoring 11 in the final canto for a 92-84 win. Being sister teams didn't prevent a scuffle between McClary and Danny Ildefonso in Game 2, resulting in the suspension of both players next game.


Ginebra vs San Miguel (2007 Philippine)

It was inevitable for the two teams to meet in the Finals, after topping the double elimination round with 13-5 slates and earning automatic semis seats. Both squads struggled, though—the Kings against the Talk 'N Text Phone Pals (4-2), and the Beermen versus the Red Bull Barako (4-3). In the Finals, Jong Uichico steered Ginebra past Chot Reyes and San Miguel in six games, winning the last four to the delight of the Barangay. In Game 6, Jayjay Helterbrand was fouled by Willy Wilson, who was inserted into the game for the first time, with less than ten seconds left. Helterbrand cooly sank both FTs to give the Kings a 96-94 lead and watched the Beermen fail to convert in their last play.

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San Miguel vs Ginebra (2009 Fiesta)

It was 2007 all over again for these early semifinal qualifiers. And all it took was six games for the Beermen and the Kings to dispose of Burger King and Rain or Shine. Ginebra was hoping to become the first team in conference history to defend its title, but San Miguel had other plans. The Kings won the odd-numbered games, but SMB kept tying the series until they headed for the winner-take-all. With reinforcement Gabe Freeman leading the charge with 29 points and 18 rebounds, the Beermen led practically the entire game, winning 90-79, as Ginebra import David Noel's offensive game disappeared in the decider.

San Mig vs Petron (2013 Governors')

San Mig Coffee is the same franchise of the famed Purefoods TJ Hotdogs that joined the league in 1988. When SMC bought Purefoods in 2001, part of the sale included the basketball team. And while the two had a solid rivalry in the late '80s and early '90s, this was the first time they were tangling each other in the Finals as sister teams. In the 2000 Governors' Cup, the Beermen defeated the Hotdogs (4-1). Curiously though, the San Mig Coffee Mixers have already won the first two conferences and needed to win this one for their first Grand Slam. Petron was on a roll, though, winning 12 of their 14 games to enter the Finals. San Mig encountered a rough time, needing to beat Alaska in two games in the quarterfinals and Meralco in four semis games, to preserve its three-peat chances. With Tim Cone a master in series rivalries, he found the antidote to import Elijah Milsap and June Mar Fajardo, riding on Marques Blakely and veterans Marc Pingris, James Yap, and Mark Barroca, to pull off an 87-77 Game 7 victory, in front of 21,000 plus fans to become only the fourth franchise in league history to win the coveted Grand Slam.

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San Miguel vs Ginebra (2017 Philippine)

As top talents gravitate towards conglomerate teams, having more frequent sister-team championship face-offs in today's PBA is expected. In the last two Philippine Cups alone, we saw affiliated squads opposing each other in the Finals. In 2017, SMB and Ginebra renewed their rivalry, but the latter was at a disadvantage without an injured Greg Slaughter. As such, Fajardo roamed the paint freely to give the Beermen a dominating (4-1) Finals win. Although it was Chris Ross who emerged as the biggest hero in the series, averaging 17 points, five rebounds, nine dimes and close to two steals a game. The Beermen captured the Perpetual Cup trophy in honor of teams able to win the Philippine Cup for three straight seasons. But they weren't done, and ultimately won their fourth consecutive All-Filipino jewel in the Finals of the...

San Miguel vs Magnolia (2018 Philippine)

It was only last conference, or barely four months ago, when the SMB continued its supremacy, beating another sister team, the Magnolia Hotshots, in the Finals, 4-1. Both squads finished the elimination round with 8-3 cards, with the Beermen losing only once in the quarters and semis to Ginebra, while the Hotshots, getting trounced twice by NLEX. In the Finals, it was San Miguel all the way after Game 1, when Magnolia pulled off a 105-103 upset. Having woken up from that stunning loss, SMB showed who's boss the remaining matches, winning by an average of 13 points.

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With the San Miguel Beermen going up against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel for the sixth time in the PBA Finals, they're looking at another opportunity to win the Grand Slam that they failed to achieve last season. They will be severely tested by BGSM, a team that hasn't lost a title series with Justin Brownlee as reinforcement. And with SMB import Renaldo Balkman not looking healthy in Game 4 vs Alaska, coupled with a healthy Greg Slaughter, a revenge of their 2017 Philippine Cup Finals loss isn't quite farfetched.


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