CHAMPIONSHIP teams or even dynasties are built to last for five to seven years and there should be a transition phase after that.
We've seen it from the great dynasties in Philippine basketball — from grand slam teams of Crispa, San Miguel, Alaska and San Mig Coffee, old ball clubs like Toyota and Great Taste, and modern-day powerhouse squads like the Beermen and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings — need continuity in their programs.
Even the great teams in the NBA had their ups and downs.
The Boston Celtics in the NBA took five years to become champions again after dominating the 1960s, and after winning the 1974 and 1976 seasons, they waited for another five years to win their next title behind the Great White Hope — Larry Bird.
The Los Angeles Lakers couldn't win a title after winning their lone championship in the 70s, but started to build a dynasty and won five championships in the 1980s behind the "Showtime" team led by Magic Johnson.
Then, there's the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s with His Airness, Michael Jordan, taking his full flight and carrying on his wings the team he led to six championships.
Barangay Ginebra, winner of five championships over the last six years, is due for a rebuild and prior to the start of the season, the league's most popular team has started to gradually make changes in its roster.
The Gin Kings did that by shipping seven-foot center Greg Slaughter to NorthPort for workhorse Christian Standhardinger.
Standhardinger can easily chalk up double-double productions on any given day and has proven to be a perfect complement for Japeth Aguilar's athleticism.
Standhardinger and Scottie Thompson are the future of the Gin Kings.
Thompson is being molded as the next face of the franchise after Mark "The Spark" Caguioa.
LA Tenorio is 37 years old and both Stanley Pringle and Aguilar are 34.
The Gin Kings have also invested on Arvin Tolentino, a talented 6-foot-4 swing man, as well as undersized forward AJ Mariano, but the Gin Kings have yet to identify the likely heir apparent for Tenorio, Pringle and Aguilar. Coach Tim Cone will now have to look for young, talented players who can take their place.
Through the years, Cone was able to handle players who have special talents —Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins and Kenneth Duremdes at Alaska; James Yap, PJ Simon, Marc Pingris and Mark Barroca at the old Purefoods franchise; and Thompson, Tenorio, Aguilar and Pringle at Ginebra.
But with the present roster of the Gin Kings, it looks like the league's winningest coach will have to stick with the old reliable players, at least for the next two years, while patiently waiting for special talents who would fit well to the brand associated with a "Never-Say-Die" attitude.
What's important for now is not to let the fans down and Cone knows it too well.
For many years, he has been the villain among Ginebra fans. His Alaska team was frequently known as a Ginebra slayer but over the past five years, he was embraced by diehard fans as a messiah who can lead the Gin Kings to the promised land.
The recent setback where the Gin Kings got booted out early in the playoffs isn't good news and Cone accepted all the blame.
But one conference won't define Cone and the Gin Kings. The road may be bumpy for now but they will be back in cruise control once they regain their top form.
Injuries here and there and unavailability due to health protocols sealed Ginebra's doom this season. But that's not an excuse.
Cone has taken it upon himself to ensure the team's continued success.
The Gin Kings couldn't wait to get back into action. So are the crowd who are eager to pack the venue once more. The Ginebra diehards are highly anticipating the return of the Gin Kings next conference and also the return of live fans in the playing venues.