What the Crispa Redmanizers of the old were to the PBA in the pro-league’s infant years, is San Miguel Beer today. The Beermen play basketball on a higher plane.
It’s art that should be painted not photographed. The Beermen represent the higher state of art. They’re not a team, they’re a mystique. Every time they walk onto the floor for a game, they’re immediately given a plus 10 odds.
The Beermen happened to be the only remaining original team of the nine that shed off their amateur status to form the country’s and the region’s first ever play-for-pay league Fourty-three years ago. The Ramon S. Ang owned franchise has so far won 25 championships since then. The most by any club.
Of that victorious run are eight All-Filipino (Philippine Cup) plums, the most, too, by an aggrupation, making them the best club with an all-Filipino talents in their roster. They’ve just tied the Redmanizers’ record four straight All-Filipino title conquest with their recent triumph over sister team Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok last Friday.
The Beermen’s eight All-Filipino title wins were two better than the Hotshot’s (Purefoods franchise) six and three better than Crispa’s five. The Redmanizers though fashioned out theirs with all homegrown campaigners
With these accomplishments, it is not surprising, therefore, why SMBeer has been playing the game more than the way it should. As in the words of team captain Arwind Santos, the Beermen, being the oldest surviving member of the league, are the oldest of the three franchises owned by the food and beverage firm that includes Purefoods and Barangay Ginebra.
“Kami ang flagship ng kumpanya. Nakatatandang kapatid, kumbaga, ng dalawa pang koponan na paga-aari ng kumpanya kaya dapat naman na kami ang mag-set ng example sa nakababata sa amin,” Santos told this writer the other day by way of explaining how he and his teammates came from a 1-0 deficit at the start of the best-of-seven title series against Magnolia to bring home all the marbles.
As I said noon, we were the defending champions at proud kami doon. Add the fact that we were seeking a four-peat so, nakataya ang reputasyon hindi lamang ng team kundi pati ang reputasyon ng buong kumpanya, ” he explained.
Reputation and respect San Miguel has earned from the time its beer arrived in the country in the early 19th century when it started involving itself in helping the development of sports here, not only in basketball.
“We owe it, therefore, to the company, which actually is the main reason why we’re wearing its uniform that’s we always try our best to win the championships,” the 2013 league MVP and eight-time All- Star. “At sa fans, lalo na, na walang sawang sumusuporta sa amin at sa PBA. Sila din ang dahilan kung bakit kami nandito.”
“We owe it, too, to the company’s former owners, na lahat ay sumuporta para palakasin ang sports dito sa ating bansa at maka-diskubre at maka-develop ng mga atletang kumatawan sa Pilipinas sa iba’t-ibang larangan sa Asya at sa mundo,” the former King Tamaraw of Far Eastern University, related.
Santos was referring to the Soriano father-son-grandson teamup (Andre Sr.- Andres Jr-Andres III) and the Cojuangco brothers (Ambassador Danding and Henry), whose all-out support to sports Mr. Ang, popularly known as RSA to the business and sports communities, is continuing.
“Sila ang aming inspirasyon. Napakalaki ng nagawa nila sa papapalaganap ng sports dito sa atin at pati na ng pagtukoy nila ng future sports heroes na nagiging at magiging huwaran naman namin at mga susunod pang sa generation sa amin,” he said.
“At bilang pagkilala sa nagawa nila, kaming nandito ngayon, kasama ang mga kapatid namin sa Ginebra at Purefoods ay sisikapin naming ituloy ang sinimulan nilang itininuturing naming mga ninuno,” Santos said.