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Rivalry rekindled


The ongoing Commissioner’s Cup finale would surely add up to the drama, excitement and color that made this rivalry one of the best ever in the history of the league.


Throughout their history, San Miguel Beer and Purefoods can be considered as the most well-followed squads as their matchups produced some of the greatest players in the Philippine Basketball Association.

From San Miguel, Hall of Famers like four-time Most Valuable Player Mon Fernandez, Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim and Hector Calma, two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle, Ato Agustin, former MVP Arwind Santos, all the way to present stars like seven-time MVP winner June Mar Fajardo emerged.

Over at the old Purefoods franchise, which is now known as Magnolia, the likes of Hall of Famer Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa, Jerry Codiñera, Nelson Asaytono, Glenn Capacio and Dindo Pumaren as well as two-time MVP James Yap, Kerby Raymundo, Marc Pingris, PJ Simon and Mark Barroca became household names.

It was a rivalry that stretched back to 36 years ago when Purefoods acquired the old Tanduay franchise then owned by the Elizaldes, brought in the core of the team and mixed it with the glamor boys who were treated like rock stars upon their entry in 1988.

To date, the Beermen enjoyed a 7-2 advantage in their head-to-head finals match-up, yet these numbers didn’t look overwhelming from the way the championship duels were played.

Let’s take a look back at such rivalry that has become pretty much one-sided in favor of the Beermen yet didn’t lack the excitement as it was considered as one of the most well-followed rivalries due to their solid fanbases.

1988 Open Conference (San Miguel wins 4-3) — Led by playing coach and import Norman Black, San Miguel denied Purefoods, then bannered by David Thirdkill and playing coach Ramon Fernandez and then rookie hotshots Lastimosa, Codiñera and Capacio, of a Cinderella finish by winning in a grueling seven-game finale.

1989 All-Filipino (San Miguel wins, 4-2) — In the aftermath of the one-on-one switch that involved Fernandez and Abet Guidaben, El Presidente would once again help the Beermen in repulsing the challenge of the gutsy young Hotdogs, whom they had beaten in six games of the most prestigious conference.

1992 All-Filipino (San Miguel wins, 4-3) — For the third straight meeting, the more experienced Beermen were ready to thwart the challenge of the Patrmonio-led Hotdogs and the winningest team in PBA history needed the full stretch before prevailing.

1993 All-Filipino (Coney Island, 4-2) — A new dynamic coach in Chot Reyes called the shots for the squad carrying a new brand name called Coney Island, but a more fired up Patrmonio and a vastly-improving Codiñera, coupled by timely contributions from Capacio and Boy Cabahug allowed the old Purefoods franchise to finally get the monkey off its back.

1994 All-Filipino (San Miguel wins, 4-2) — More than the ticket to the Hiroshima Asian Games, the return bout between San Miguel and Purefoods was more about pride and the battle-scared Beermen led by Caidic and Agustin would overpower the Ice Cream Stars of Coney Island.

2000 Governors’ Cup (San Miguel wins, 4-1) — Seigle, Ildefonso and a super import named Lamont Strothers came out ready against the Derrick Brown and Patrimonio-led Hotdogs and for five games, the Beermen were simply too much at the turn of the century.

2013 Governors’ Cup (San Mig Coffee wins, 4-3) — Tim Cone was at the San Mig Coffee bench to give equal opportunities to Yap, Simon Barroca, Pingris and Best Import Marqus Blakely. He also brought in his Triangle Offense and his winning touch in outlasting the Beermen in seven games.

2018 Philippine Cup (San Miguel wins, 4-1) — At the peak of Fajardo’s dominance, San Miguel Beer was like an unstoppable unit and they breezed past an up and coming Magnolia side coached by Chito Victolero.

2019 Philippine Cup (San Miguel wins, 4-3) — Magnolia was determined to get back against its tormentor and came close to doing so, but Leo Austria, Fajardo and the so-called Death Five were ready for the challenge to endure the Hotshots in seven games.

The ongoing Commissioner’s Cup finale would surely add up to the drama, excitement and color that made this rivalry one of the best ever in the history of the league.

The tone has changed over the last 23 years when San Miguel acquired the old Purefoods franchise, but these teams had engaged in a sibling war trying to win the attention of the family’s patriarch.

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