Sunday, July 19, 2009

San Miguel wins - at last, in the San Miguel league

Congrats SMB! The San Miguel Beermen ended four years of frustration by smashing a depleted Barangay Ginebra Kings in the 2009 PBA Fiesta Conference. San Miguel came from behind after being down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

San Miguel was much too deep the injury-riddled Ginebra who was simply too tired in the final game. San Miguel coach Siot Tanquincen finally won a crown for SMB.

The San Miguel team was actually a very deep team in all positions for several years now. But the potential never came to fruition under Tanquincen. I was so frustrated with his inability to win a champinship that I initiated a 'fire Siot' movement in a basketbal forum thread/poll. There were many others who were equally dismayed and the thread ran for a long time. The poll showed 70% wanted Siot out as coach since last year.

But with the win, Siot made a lot of SMB fans happy at the moment. His tenure is safe for another conference at least.

The best of seven series still produced a lot of thrills notwithstanding the corporate relations between the two teams. The PBA is truly a San Miguel league with three of the 10 teams (can be actually four) from the San Miguel conglomerate. That makes SMB, Ginebra, and Purefoods (and maybe Coca-Cola) sister teams. In this situation, accusations of a 'scripted' series abound. With its vast corporate resources, SMB teams manage to corner the top players money can buy and go circuitous routes to go around league rules on player transfers. So with the supposed 'script', Purefoods is poised to win the next championship.

Is this situation healthy? The other team owners do not seem to mind, after all PBA continues to provide good exposure for their products. But the rigodon of the players around the league leaves sports fans lost. In the Toyota-Crispa days, PBA fans are fans of the teams. Either you're a Toyota fan or a Crispa fan. When these teams disbanded and the players dispersed to other teams, the players took along their fan base to their new teams. So San Miguel acquired a lot of new fans with the arrival of Mon Fernandez. It was the same with Ginebra when Sonny Jaworski came on board.

What happens when players move around a lot? Team fans lose their identities too. Fans don't root for a team anymore, they root for the players. As a fan, I think rooting for a team is much better than rooting for a particular player, after all basketball is a team game. When fans start to root for a player and not for the team, and if the players move around teams a lot, that defeats the purpose of maintaining a team for product marketing purposes. With the grand exception of the San Miguel teams. The PBA has to do something about the San Miguel stronghold over the league.

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