YOU would think a grand slam victory in the PBA entailed a grand celebration, right?
That was not the case at all after San Miguel Beer completed a sweep of all three conferences in 1989 - just the second team to pull off the feat after Crispa and only the third grand slam in the history of the PBA (after Crispa in 1976 and 1983).
Then San Miguel coach Norman Black remembered not having a victory party after the team wrapped up the Reinforced Conference Finals with a 122-111 decision over Anejo in Game Five on December 12, 1989.
It had something to do with Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr., the top official of San Miguel who returned to the country that year after being in exile since the Edsa People Power Revolution.
“I don’t remember a party for that grand slam,” Black said in the CPT Crossover podcast. “It was a tough time then. A little bit of changing in the winds of leadership in the country. It was a delicate time.”
Black recalled Cojuangco returning back to the country just days before Game Five of the finals where the Beermen were about to seal the grand slam.
Due to the political situation during that time, San Miguel opted not to celebrate the hard-fought championship victory.
“Those were very delicate times then. It was a difficult situation for everybody. San Miguel was his company,” said Black, referring to Cojuangco, “and he had to leave the country. It was a difficult time for everybody.”
The Beermen definitely had all the reasons to celebrate.
San Miguel actually won four straight conference crowns having also ruled the 1988 Reinforced Conference. In that grand slam year, San Miguel beat Shell in five games in the Open Conference, and Purefoods in six game in the All-Filipino Conference.
“I think he arrived a few days earlier than the actual date of winning the grand slam. I can remember that well because one thing I remember is that we didn’t have any celebration for that grand slam out of respect for him. We didn’t even have a party.”
“Up to then, all our championships, I remember Fernando Poe Jr. being there and a lot of people being invited in the parties. But I don’t remember a party for the grand slam,” said Black.
The absence of the party didn't diminish the achievement of the Beermen as well as the respect of Black and the entire team to Cojuangco, who recently passed away at the age of 85.
“Always found Mr. Cojuangco to be a great boss. He wasn’t the type that’s going to stay on top of you. In other words, he is not the type that is going to be there on top of you in every move," the Meralco coach said.
"He is going to give you the responsibility and he is going to evaluate how you handle that responsibility. If you do well, you do well. If you don’t do well, obviously, you have to face the consequences whatever the end result comes in."