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New squads face tough challenge

The road to a Philippine Basketball Association title will not be easy for expansion teams.

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said the current setup of the PBA makes it harder for teams like Terrafirma, Blackwater, Phoenix and Converge to contend for a championship.

Right now, the league is greatly divided into teams under the umbrellas of San Miguel Corporation of Ramon Ang and MVP Group of Companies of Manny Pangilinan.

San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Magnolia, TNT Tropang Giga, NLEX and Meralco have dominated the league, winning the titles in the past 16 conferences.

Interestingly, it was Rain or Shine, which was coached by Guiao, which emerged as the last independent team to win a PBA crown in the Commissioner’s Cup in 2016.

“It’s now difficult to do the things we used to do before,” said Guiao during the Down to the Wire podcast, a weekly sports show of Daily Tribune, last Monday.

“You cannot do it now that after two years in the league, you’re going to win a championship.”

Guiao was speaking from experience.


‘It’s now difficult to do the things we used to do before.’


He was just a second-year mentor for Red Bull when it won the Commissioner’s Cup title in 2001.

Prior to that, teams like Purefoods, Swift, Shell and Tanduay can also be competitive against the top-tier teams in the country’s premier professional basketball league.

Purefoods, for one, had proven that it could slug it out against the big boys when it entered the finals twice in its maiden season before winning the crown in just its third year in the league.

Its corporate rival, Swift, entered the league as an expansion team in 1990 and won a title in its third season.

Now, it’s hard for expansion teams to win the crown with young squads like Blackwater and Terrafirma, who both entered the league in 2014, becoming whipping boys in a league dominated by those from the SMC and MVP Group.

Phoenix, which acquired the Barako Bull franchise, had a fighting chance when it came close to advancing to the finals in the league’s bubble tourney in 2020 while Converge can also pull off a miraculous feat as it advanced to the playoffs in its first three conferences since taking over from Alaska in 2021.

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