The PBA: Is San Mig Coffee a Sports Dynasty?

The San Mig Coffee Mixers were the underdogs in the Commissioner's Cup
but they prevailed over the favorites, Talk N Text Tropang Texters
(Image from: www.interaksyon.com)
What's the first thing that comes to your mind when the word "dynasty" is used in regards to sports or, in this case, a basketball team? Is it the multiple championships accomplished in a succession of tournaments, seasons, or conferences? Can it be the display of consistently competing and remaining relevant? Does winning three straight conferences elevate your team into the sports dynasty category? According to Wikipedia, a sports dynasty is used to describe a team that has won numerous championships and dominated its league for roughly a decade (10 years). The best examples in the last 25 years include Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls plus the Kobe Bryant-Shaq O'Neal Lakers of the early 2000s. If the Miami Heat win a 3rd straight ring in the 2014 NBA Finals, they too will be considered a dynasty during the social media era. 

Locally in the Philippine Basketball Association, the Crispa Redmanizers of the late 1970s and early 1980s illustrated what a sports dynasty was. Crispa won 13 championships in 10 years while finishing 2nd in 8 more conferences. At one point, they won 21 consecutive games while also winning 6 straight conferences. Their fiercest rival at that time was the Toyota Super Corallas who were no slouches. Toyota finished with 9 trophies and 9 more 2nd-place results. However, Toyota only won 2 straight conferences and never achieved a Grand Slam (winning all the conferences/tournaments held during the whole year). In contrast, Crispa collected a Grand Slam twice (1976 and 1983).   


The most recent example of a possible sports dynasty in the Philippine Basketball Association pertains to the San Mig Coffee Mixers. The SMC Mixers have won three straight conferences dating from last year's Governor's Cup. Technically, winning three straight for the Mixers is NOT considered a Grand Slam because it did not happen in the same PBA season. Their season begins during the Philippine Cup, then the Commissioner's Cup and finally, the Governors' Cup. If SMC wins this year's Governors' Cup, then the PBA record books will officially classify them as the Grand Slam team of 2014 for winning all 3 conferences this year (4 straight in total). Overall, in the last four years, the Mixers own 5 trophies (and one 2nd place finish) out of the 13 conferences in which they have competed. That's the best mark in the PBA during that span BUT not indicative of utter dominance. Why not?


The Philippine Cup is the most sought trophy in the PBA.
Because another team can claim that they have been more dominant or consistent in the last 4 years. That team is the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters. TnT won 4 conferences and finished 1st runner-up three times including the most recent Commissioner's Cup Finals. The Texters have made the playoffs in every conference, while the Mixers actually did not qualify during the 2011 Commissioner's Cup. Another telling stat that illustrates TnTs strength is their overall record and winning percentage. The Texters led the PBA in total wins (eliminations and playoffs) during the last 4 years and they established a 13-game winning streak during the past conference. The winning streak was very impressive because having a double-digit winning streak in the PBA is very rare. However, the Tropang Texters did not capitalize on their momentum and they lost to the Mixers in the Finals. TnT almost had a chance to get a Grand Slam during the 2010-11 season but they fell short, losing Game 7 of the Governor's Cup to Petron (SMB). 

Does that make TnT a sports dynasty? Absolutely not because they did not fulfill both of the perceived requirements of a dynasty. The Tropang Texters did not secure a Grand Slam even though they remain to be a powerhouse that manages to regularly win and dominate the standings. To become a dynasty, winning three consecutive conferences (preferably a Grand Slam) grants your team passage into the discussion and debate of being compared to other PBA dynasties like Crispa, San Miguel Beer (1989) and Alaska Aces (1996). 
   
So back to our original topic, is SMC a dynasty? Not yet but they're very close. All they need to do is win the current conference to finish with a Grand Slam. Winning a Grand Slam solidifies their legacy as a sports dynasty especially since the Mixers have remained competitive and relevant while also winning successive conferences. Oh, by the way, the Coffee Mixers aren't that far away from Talk N Text with regards to total wins. San Mig Coffee is at 2nd (or 3rd). 

Currently, SMC is near the top of the standings and that gives them a great chance to advance to the playoffs and compete in the Governor's Cup Finals. And guess what? TnT is tied with them near the top of the standings. It would be a marvelous story if both teams meet again in the Finals. Will SMC get the Grand Slam and become a dynasty? Or will Talk N Text (or others) derail their quest for a special place in PBA history? Let's wait and see. Basketball never stops. 


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