I have written an article before regarding one of my favorite players in the NBA, Tim Duncan. That was the NBA. Today, I would like to write about my favorite Philippine Basketball Association team, the San Miguel Beermen. I was still in my elementary years when I came to know this team. During that time, the famous team was Anejo / Tanduay / Ginebra, Purefoods and Alaska. These teams are tough, mean, and pure championship calibers. One cannot say that these teams are lame because if you do, there will be fist fights. But San Miguel Beermen is one of the toughest teams in the PBA.
The Championship game will always be grand, fierce, brutal. And seeing my favorite team in the Championships really puts a smile on face, and I carry them even in my dreams. And yes, they’re the 1989 Grand Slam team.
Then came the changes that happened within the organizations… Coach Ron Jacobs was tasked to handle the team and sure he did a great job. The team back then has almost lost all the great players above due to age and injuries and retirements… Coach Ron had to settle with one weapon, Nelson Asaytono.
Nelson Asaytono became the main man of the SMB Beermen during the late 1990s. Coach Ron gave Nelson the green light to do as he please, and the Coach never regretted it. Nelson was the scorer, rebounder, point guard and the teams face. He became almost the lone offensive weapon of SMB. But there’s also people who are around him that time that helped him, there’s Freddie Abuda and Art Dela Cruz who have helped Nelson with the rebounding and scoring part.
And somewhere along the way, Nelson became team mates with one of the most exciting players ever, Mr. Excitement himself, Paul “Bong” Alvarez. Bong Alvarez brought a lot of dimension and excitement to the SMB team.
Then, the arrival of one of my favorite players from SMB, Lakay Danny Ildefonso. He was to assist Nelson with the team’s offense. And hell he did. His arrival came as a fresh breath of air for the SMB. Then the team added Danny Seigle. Along with the team is the captain, Olsen Racela. Then came Dondon Hontiveros, Dorian Peña, Nic Belasco, Dwight Lago, Boybits Victoria with their coach, Coach Jong Uichico.
After Coach Jong got transferred to another team, it started the downfall of the formidable San Miguel Beermen. The team changed name to Magnolia Beverage, then San Miguel then Petron Boosters. Olsen retired and became coach for 2 seasons. Danny Seigle, Dorian Peña and Dondon Hontiveros got traded. Nic Belasco also got traded beforehand. And then, an article came out sometime November 2013 title, Danny Ildefonso – The last of the San Miguel Beermen. From that article, here is some of what Danny I, as he is fondly called, said “The drastic changes started in 2011 when Danny Seigle and Dondon Hontiveros, two players who were Beermen for a decade, were packaged with Dorian Pena and Paul Artadi and shipped to the Air21 Express for Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao, and Rey Guevarra, the top three picks of the 2010 PBA Draft.
“Sobrang nainis ako sa trade na yun kasi akala ko dati kapag loyal ka, secured ka. Sabi pa nga nila, ‘samahang walang katulad,’” Ildefonso recalled. “Yung tao naging loyal, binigay lahat ni Danny [Seigle] sa team, pero na-trade rin siya.”
“Yun yung hirap sa amin ngayon,” he continued. “Sa bali-balita lang namin nalalaman. Dati, two to three weeks bago mangyari yung trade, kakausapin na kami na may mangyayari. Ngayon sa ibang tao mo pa malalaman. Tapos alam na nga ng sambayanan, pero dine-deny pa rin nila. Yung masakit pa dun, yung mga kinuha namin para sa kanya binitawan rin. Okay lang sana kung nandun pa sila e, pero di rin nagtagal kaya sayang lang yung pag-trade kay Danny.”
The changes continued earlier this year when Olsen Racela was fired from the head coaching position after 16 years of loyalty to the franchise.
“Yun ang pinakamasakit sa lahat. Yung kay Olsen nalaman ko rin sa ibang tao,” Ildefonso said. “Yung team na hinawakan ni Olsen di naman maayos e. Kung di rin nagloko si [Renaldo] Balkman, sigurado kami sa Finals. Si Olsen ang tagal nag-serbisyo sa San Miguel, pag naglaro, all out, yung puso niya nasa team talaga, pero di siya pinagbigyan, nahusgahan siya agad.””
This sentiment might have been the reason why Petron never renewed his contract. But don’t worry, Lakay is now with Meralco Bolts. Dynamite Danny is with Talk ‘N Text, The Cebuano Hotshot Dondon Hontiveros and Nic Belasco are with Alaska Aces, and Olsen “RA-RA” Racela is with San Mig Coffee, Dorian Peña is with Barako Bull Energy.
I had to like their pages from Facebook now. They’re the guys I grew up watching. And as the famous tag of San Miguel has always been, “IBA ANG MAY PINAGSAMAHAN.”