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The Championship Bad Blood Between SMB And Magnolia Goes Way Back

Past San Miguel-Purefoods title matches could give Manila Clasico a run for its money
by Nate Toledo | Mar 23, 2018
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The San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok will rekindle an old rivalry that dates back to the late-80s and early-90s when they face off in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals which starts today.

Long before they ended up being PBA sister teams under the banner of the San Miguel Corporation, the two teams waged multiple championship battles, including four in the All-Filipino Conference when faces such as Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, Allan Caidic, Alvin Patrimonio, and Jerry Codinera became household names.

Finals showdowns between San Miguel and the former Purefoods franchise became a rarity in the 2000s, with the most recent encounter coming in 2013 when Marc Pingris, James Yap, June Mar Fajardo, and Arwind Santos began to plant the seeds for their eventual place as among the greatest teams in league history.

While the rivalry of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia was perceived to be one of the biggest owing to its rich history of memorable games, past SMB-(insert whatever name the old Purefoods team would put) matches could give Manila Clasico a run for its money, particularly with the title they chased beginning in the 1988 season.

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1988 Open Conference (San Miguel defeated Purefoods, 4-3)

The way San Miguel and Purefoods rosters were formed was similar—the Beermen returning from a brief hiatus in 1986 with the core of the famed NCC squad, led by Lim and Calma to mix up with playing coach Norman Black, Abet Guidaben, and Ricardo Brown. Meanwhile, the Ayala-owned Hotdogs added top amateurs like Codinera and Jojo Lastimosa and remnants of the disbanded Tanduay franchise under playing coach Ramon Fernandez.

San Miguel engaged in a war of attrition with a Purefoods team that made the Finals on its maiden conference. However, the Beermen, which already captured a crown in the 1987 Reinforced Conference, made it two in a row by claiming the deciding seventh game, 94-92, behind Black's 38 points, Guidaben's 28, and two late free throws from Brown that sealed the deal.

1989 All-Filipino Conference (San Miguel defeated Purefoods, 4-2)

Things changed more than a year after their first Finals faceoff, with Fernandez now a member of San Miguel, and Alvin Patrimonio reinforcing a Purefoods squad now coached by the great Baby Dalupan.

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Also back with the Beermen was Lim, who redeemed himself from missing 1988 Open Conference Finals and combined with Calma, Yves Dignadice, Alvin Teng, Elmer Reyes, and Franz Pumaren to beat the Hotdogs side powered by Patrimonio, Codinera, Lastimosa, Dindo Pumaren, and Glenn Capacio. The victory turned out to be a stepping stone for the SMB's successful run at the PBA's third Grand Slam.

1992 All-Filipino Conference (San Miguel defeated Purefoods, 4-3)

San Miguel battled Purefoods to the limit to win the first of three consecutive All-Filipino Finals meetings, while ending a three-year title drought. Ato Agustin, who wound up winning that year's Most Valuable Player award, stepped up in the fourth quarter to claim the deciding seventh game and hand Black his seventh title.

The Hotdogs, who retained the title that they won the previous year against Diet Sarsi, did not go down without a fight, forcing a Game 7 behind stirring performances from Patrimonio and Boy Cabahug. Coaching Purefoods was Ding Panganiban, who spent the franchise's infant years as team manager.


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1993 All-Filipino Cup (Coney Island defeated San Miguel, 4-2)

Two decades before he became known for his role as coach of Gilas Pilipinas, Chot Reyes piloted the renamed Coney Island Ice Cream Stars to the Philippine Cup title on his rookie conference in the pros. Banking on another sensational showing from Patrimonio, Coney Island bounced back from dropping the opener and won the next three before clinching its second All-Filipino championship in three years (Game 6).

The Ice Cream Stars beat a San Miguel squad that acquired Caidic from the disbanded Presto franchise after the 1992 season. Lim was one of the Beermen's bright spots in the series, highlighted by a half-court shot at the end of the third quarter of Game 5, which the Beermen prevailed to delay Coney Island's celebration.

1994 All-Filipino Cup (San Miguel defeated Coney Island, 4-2)

San Miguel's six-game victory, the team's 11th before going on a five-year drought, turned out to be doubly sweet as it not only avenged the previous All-Filipino title loss to Coney Island, but also the right to represent the country in the Hiroshima Asian Games later that year.

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Ironically, the Beermen later added three Ice Cream Stars to the national team roster in Patrimonio, Codinera, and rookie Rey Evangelista, to team up with SMB's core of Caidic, Agustin and Calma. The nationals finished fourth  for bronze, falling short of securing a podium finish in a loss to host Japan.

2000 Governors' Cup (San Miguel defeated Purefoods, 4-1)

San Miguel's run at five championships from 1999 to 2001 included a five-game win over Purefoods, the shortest Finals duel of both teams. Riding high on Danny Ildefonso's MVP season, Danny Seigle's offensive arsenal, Olsen Racela's quarterbacking chores, import Lamont Strothers' presence, and the defensive excellence of Freddie Abuda and Nic Belasco, The Beermen claimed the first three games before closing it out in Game 5 to give coach Jong Uichico a much-deserved victory ride.

The losing Hotdogs were mentored by Derrick Pumaren, Black's former assistant during SMB's dominance in the late-80s, with Patrimonio being joined by Andy Seigle and prolific American Derrick Brown, who was named as the Best Import that conference.

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2013 Governors' Cup (San Mig Super Coffee defeated Petron, 4-3)

The two teams would wait another 13 years before meeting in a Finals series, only this time as sister clubs (San Miguel Corporation bought Purefoods from Ayala Corporation in 2001). Behind import Marqus Blakely and an inspiring performance from Pingris, San Mig held off a Petron side powered by season MVP Santos, rookie Fajardo, and import Elijah Millsap, tying Tim Cone with Dalupan for most titles by a PBA coach. The Blaze Boosters were mentored by current team manager Gee Abanilla.

The Super Coffee's triumph also became the launching pad for a streak of four consecutive titles, ending with the league's fifth Grand Slam in 2014. Petron later reverted back to San Miguel to begin its current run of success, with Fajardo, who admitted how painful it was losing to the Mixers on his first Finals, as the focal point of coach Leo Austria's system.

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