TANDUAY finally reached the finals of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup, ending a long wait for one of the two remaining pioneers in the developmental league.
Although it is only the first time the Rhum Masters will be playing in a D-League title series, the company holds a rich tradition in Philippine basketball from its days in the PBA when the company was still owned by the Elizalde family up until its Asia Brewery years.
Here are some of the notable moments of Tanduay basketball:
Stag dominates PBL
Before Tanduay reached the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup, the Asia Brewery franchise lorded it over amateur basketball particularly in the mid-1990s while carrying the colors of Stag Pale Pilsen. Coached by Alfrancis Chua and led by future Ginebra stars Marlou Aquino and Bal David, and Jason Webb, Stag claimed a Philippine Basketball League ‘grand slam’ inits first season in the commercial amateur league in 1995-96.
Menk stars in Tanduay’s last title run in PBL
After Stag won the 1996 PBL Danny Floro Cup, the Asia Brewery franchise changed the name of the squad to Tanduay and the success continued, winning all three conferences in the 1997-1998 season with a star-studded lineup made up of Eric Menk, Mark Telan, Chris Cantonjos, and Jomer Rubi, among others before the dynasty ended with a loss to Dr. J Rubbing Alcohol in their final conference in the PBL in the 1998-1999 Centennial Cup.
Caloy Loyzaga makes YCO a household name
Arguably the best player the Philippines has ever produced, Loyzaga is the only Filipino who made it to the Mythical Five of the World Basketball Championship in 1954. Domestically, Loyzaga strutted his wares with the YCO Painters, a team owned by Manuel Elizalde, whose family also owned Tanduay Distillery at that time.
Loyzaga made YCO one of the most dominating club teams in the country, leading the Painters to seven straight national championships from 1954 to 1960, as well as several titles in the old Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Association (Micaa). Loyzaga also went on to coach the YCO squad who had great rivalries with Ysmael Steel.
Years later, the Elizalde group became one of the founding owners of the PBA, forming the Tanduay ballclub, with a few members of the YCO squad in the Micaa joining the new professional team. The YCO name would return as YCO-Tanduay from 1981 to 1982.
Hubalde, Fernandez lead Rhum Makers to first PBA crown
Long before its stint in the PBL, Tanduay was one of the pioneer squads in the PBA in 1975. It wasn't until the 1986 All-Filipino Cup that the team bagged its first PBA title. Against the Robert Jaworski-led Ginebra San Miguel, Mon Fernandez and Freddie Hubalde led the charge in Game Four for Tanduay. Hubalde hit two crucial free throws in the dying seconds for a 93-92 win to give the Elizalde-owned franchise their first PBA crown.
Tanduay wins three straight PBA titles
Led by David Thirdkill’s 59 points and Mon Fernandez’s 26 points, the Rhum Makers coached by Turo Valenzona captured the 1986 Open Conference crown with a 134-120 victory over Great Taste to win the series, 4-1. It was their second straight title against Great Taste after winning the 1986 Reinforced Conference, and was a Grand Slam of sorts with their 1986 All-Filipino crown. It was their last title in the PBA as Elizalde Group later sold the PBA franchise to the Ayala Corporation, which fielded Purefoods as its team. The company was sold to the Lucio Tan group years later.
Yco, starring a young Patrimonio, wins PABL title
Few people know that Alvin Patrimonio made his debut in the commercial leagues by way of the Yco Shine Masters, who were then coached by the late Yco great Egay Gomez. That team, which also had future coaches like Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, Glen Capacio, and Ato Agustin, won two championships in the old PABL in what turned out to be the final championships won under the fabled Yco banner.
Tanduay, under Tan ownership, returns to the PBA
Tanduay made its return to the PBA during the 1999 season. Bringing in their core from the PBL as well as the drafting of the controversial Earl ‘Sonny’ Alvarado, the Rhum Masters immediately made their presence felt by reaching the finals of the All-Filipino Cup before losing to Shell. The PBA stint, however, was short-lived as its PBA franchise was sold to FedEx at the end of the 2001 season.