JUST last season, Talk ‘N Text made history by becoming the first team in Philippine Basketball Association history to win three all-Filipino titles in three successive years.
Fabled ballclub Crispa won four straight All-Filipino crowns between 1979 to 1984 but there were no all-Pinoy tourneys in 1980 and 1981, making the Tropang Texters’ three-peat feat one of a kind.
In the ongoing 2013-14 PLDT TVolution Philippine Cup, history beckons anew for Talk ‘N Text.
The Tropang Texters have entered the best-of-five Finals first and in unbeaten fashion, racking up 13 straight wins dating back to the eliminations.
Manny V. Pangilinan’s flagship basketball franchise is thus looking to become the first team in the PBA’s 39-year history to sweep a conference.
Talk ‘N Text head coach Norman Black refuses to dwell on the matter, saying they want to take it, as the cliché goes, one game at a time, as they have been doing since the elimination round.
Still the Tropang Texters are three games away from achieving it.
Crispa actually nearly did the trick in the memorable 1980 All-Filipino Conference, winning its first nine games in the 10-team, single round-robin eliminations, its next five in the six-team round-robin quarterfinals, and three more in the round-robin semis for a perfect 17-0 record entering the best-of-five Finals against Toyota.
Like Talk ‘N Text right now, the Redmanizers, under the legendary Baby Dalupan, came three games away from a sweep of the conference.
In Game One of the Finals, Crispa withstood a career-high 48 points from Ramon Fernandez to beat Toyota, 108-101, then won Game Two via a 122-102 rout.
Then drama unfolded at the Tamaraws’ camp - and it backfired on the Redmanizers as a result.
Toyota head coach Fort Acuna was fired at halftime of Game Three for benching Sonny Jaworski and defying team manager Pablo Carlos’ order to field the latter.
The Tamaraws, however, drew inspiration from the development and won Game Three, 97-94, ending Crispa’s winning streak and ending all hopes of a conference sweep.
The Redmanizers regrouped to win Game Four, 105-91, and the championship. The 20-game sweep dream vanished in smoke but its 19-game win streak still stands to this day as the all-time longest winning streak in a conference while its 20-1 (0.952) conference record then is also still the best record in any conference.
There was another near-sweep of a conference and one of a side tournament, though nowhere near as the first one.
In the 1983 All-Filipino Conference, Crispa lost an 86-84 heartbreaker to Toyota on the opening day of the season then never lost again, winning all its next 12 games en route to the championship, including a 3-0 sweep of Toyota in the Finals.
In the 2003 Invitationals, which wasn’t considered a regular conference but a side tournament during the season involving foreign teams from Yugoslavia, China and Korea along with the Cebuana Lhuiller-sponsored national team (led by Gary David, Willy Wilson, Celino Cruz, Bitoy Omolon and Marc Pingris), Alaska swept its four games in the five-team qualifying stage and all its four games in the two-group elimination round to enter the knockout semis. The Aces, led by eventual Best Player of the Tournament Ali Peek, beat Red Bull 97-85 to advance to the best-of-three Finals with an unblemished 9-0 slate.
But Alaska lost Game One, 94-81, against Coca-Cola before eventually winning the championship with 78-76 OT and 91-86 decisions in Games Two and Three, respectively.
Can Talk ‘N Text achieve what previous great PBA teams were not able to do? Only San Mig Coffee and Air21 stand in the Tropang Texters' path.