(First of three parts)
WHEN it comes to hotdogs, there’s one brand that is very much associated with Pinoy consumers: Purefoods. Young people loved the brand so much, so it wasn’t surprising at all when a young team 30 years ago burst into the PBA scene and captured the hearts of its market – not only as a brand itself but also as a team.
Three decades have gone by and 15 name changes have happened, but nothing has changed: the team, which has gone on to become only one of four teams to complete a rare grand slam, is still one of the most successful ball clubs in the league since its inception in 1988.
FoxSports.ph looks back at the 30 most memorable moments in Purefoods franchise history as a way of saluting the players who have become some of the all-time greatest players ever in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
1. Purefoods purchases old Tanduay franchise — The old Tanduay franchise owned by Don Manalo Elizalde announced that the franchise was for sale and Purefoods, one of the teams competing in the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL), purchased the team. They kept the core of the old Rhummasters team that won three championships in the prior two seasons.
2. Ramon Fernandez named as Purefoods’ playing coach — At the height of the Robert Jaworski-Ramon Fernandez rivalry, Purefoods made the on-court feud more compelling by naming El Presidente as the squad’s playing coach in its maiden conference. He became the second local coach after Jaworski to be named as such, further heating up the rivalry.
3. Rookie glamour boys capture hearts of fans – Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa and Jerry Codiñera were immediate stars the moment they stepped on the floor of the old ULTRA, PBA’s home from 1985 to 1992. The three players were directly elevated to the PBA, but the Hotdogs had to wait for the All-Filipino Conference of 1988 before Patrimonio got the chance to play; he was still under contract with Swift, Purefoods’ company rival which was still playing in the PABL.
4. Fernandez benched for alleged game-fixing – In Game 2 of the 1988 All-Filipino Conference best-of-five championship series, Purefoods, which was battling Añejo, decided to bench Fernandez for his sub-par game in the series opener. The veteran slotman scored only six points and management had a suspicion the multi-titled player was not giving his best. In his absence, the Hotdogs lacked floor leadership and the 65ers beat their younger rivals, 3-1.
5. Fernandez-Guidaben Swap Part II – For the second time in their respective careers, Fernandez and Abet Guidaben would trade places. The Hotdogs initiated the trade after their relationship with Fernandez soured following the latter’s suspension for alleged game-fixing. Fernandez, who was leading in the statistical race, would be shipped to San Miguel, which was Guidaben’s previous team. “The Franchise” would win his fourth MVP award and win the championship for the Beermen in the season-ending conference, while Guidaben would only last for a conference with the Hotdogs before getting dealt the following season to Alaska.
6. The Maestro joins young Purefoods band – Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan, owner of 14 PBA championships at that time and then the winningiest mentor in the league, joined the team. Immediately, “The Maestro” brought his winning touch to the squad and in the 1989 All-Filipino Conference, the team reached the finals to face San Miguel Beer. The more experienced Beermen, however, defeated the Hotdogs, 4-2, in their best-of-seven championship series.
7. Dexter Shouse abandons Purefoods on duty – Despite his dark past, Dexter Shouse, a talented import who was also a headcase, was given a chance by Purefoods management. Early in the 1989 Third Conference, he proved to be a dominant force as long as he had his head in the right place. But in the knockout semifinals game against Añejo, Shouse left without notice and abandoned his team on duty, leaving Purefoods to go All-Filipino against the high-scoring Carlos Briggs and the 65ers. He was banned from the league.
8. Purefoods ends string of Bridesmaid Finishes — After four disappointing runner-up finishes, Purefoods finally won the big one, bagging the 1990 Third Conference championship in a come-from-behind victory over the Alaska Milkmen. Dalupan rallied his troops from a 0-2 deficit. “The Maestro” was no stranger to this situation anyway, carrying his old team Crispa Redmanizers to a similar feat during the 1970s. With imports Darren Queenan and Rob Rose in tow, the Hotdogs were able to get the monkey off their backs.
9. Hotdogs win first All-Filipino title – The Hotdogs were considered to have a powerhouse All-Filipino lineup and yet for all their talent, they couldn’t get the job done. Their fortunes changed in the 1991 All-Filipino when Ely Capacio, a long-time assistant coach of the squad, steered the squad to their first title in the prestigious tournament, outlasting a Diet Sarsi team coached by Yeng Guiao.
10. Patrimonio wins first of four MVP awards – ‘The Captain’ emerged as the leader of the squad and in 1991, Patrimonio was able to dominate and lead the way. After helping the Hotdogs win the All-Filipino championship and by staying consistent all season long, the 6-foot-3 forward from Mapua snared the coveted individual award.
Photo credit: Retro PBA Facebook