ALASKA and Rain or Shine are set to embark on a historic battle in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, marking the first time in 16 years that two independent teams will be slugging it out for the title.
The last time a PBA Finals matchup featured no teams from either the San Miguel or MVP organizations was in the 2000 All-Filipino Cup when the then-called Alaska Milkmen beat the Ayala-owned Purefoods TJ Hotdogs (San Miguel acquired the franchise a year later) in five games.
Much has changed since then, naturally, but there are some surprising remnants from that period. Here’s a major #throwback to the year 2000.
The PBA celebrated its 25th season, and commemorated it by honoring the league’s 25 Greatest Players. It also welcomed a new team in Red Bull, coached by current Rain or Shine mentor Yeng Guiao. Red Bull brought in six players from its PBL team, namely Davonn Harp (who went on to win Rookie of the Year), Kerby Raymundo, Lordy Tugade, Junthy Valenzuela, Jimwell Torion, and Bernard Tanpua.
Meanwhile, the top pick of the 2000 draft was Paolo Mendoza who went to Sta. Lucia. Some teams also exercised their direct hire options on players, most of them remain active to this day. Ginebra took Jayjay Helterbrand, Tanduay picked Dondon Hontiveros, San Miguel went with Dorian Pena, Red Bull added Mick Pennisi, and Sta. Lucia chose Rob Wainwright.
Other players who are still in the league from 2000 are Danny Seigle (now with Tropang TNT), Asi Taulava (with NLEX), and Alaska’s Tony Dela Cruz and Eric Menk.
Fun fact: Alaska's current coach Alex Compton was still playing in the MBA for the Manila Metrostars. His coach? Louie Alas, his assistant now with the Aces.
Alaska and Purefoods were ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively, after the 2000 All-Filipino Cup elimination round. While the Milkmen disposed the Beermen in the best-of-five semis in four games, Purefoods had a controversial route to the Finals.
They had already been swept by Tanduay in three games, but the PBA forfeited the Rhum Masters wins in Game 2 and 3 after discovering that Tanduay’s Sonny Alvarado used fraudulent papers to enter the PBA as a Fil-American.
Alvarado was ordered deported while the PBA and Tanduay went on a legal dispute on the outcome of the forfeited games, causing two postponements of Game 4. When the series finally resumed, Purefoods only managed to finish off Tanduay on a Boyet Fernandez (who now coaches NLEX) triple with 0.2 seconds left in overtime.
In the Finals, Purefoods took the opener but Alaska swept the next four to win the crown with Kenneth Duremdes taking home both the Best Player of the Conference and Finals MVP awards.
San Miguel, however, went on to rule both the Commissioner’s Cup and Governor’s Cup that year, with Danny Ildefonso winning the MVP award and current Ginebra assistant coach Freddie Abuda named Defensive Player of the Year.
Outside of the basketball court, many historic events also transpired. The highest grossing film in the world was Mission Impossible II, while blockbusters like Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and X-Men were also released.
The Oscars was dominated by American Beauty, winning five trophies including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, while The Matrix won four awards.
In the local front, the Vilma Santos-starrer Anak was the biggest Philippine blockbuster movie at the time. But other critically acclaimed local films like Muro-Ami, Saranggola, Bayaning 3rd World hauled the awards.
In music, Billboard’s top single of the year was ‘Breathe’ by Faith Hill and NSync’s No Strings Attached was best-selling album in the world. Santana’s Supernatural album, however, was a popular and critical hit as it won Grammys for album of the year and record of the year for the song ‘Smooth.’
Destiny’s Child also came out with their breakout album Writing’s on the Wall that had the hit single ‘Say My Name,’ Eminem released his second album Slim Shady LP and won best rap album in the Grammys.
Pinoy music was also abuzz as rock bands dominated the scene. Parokya ni Edgar won artist of the year in the NU rock awards while Slapshock was named new artist, Teeth’s ‘Shooting Star’ was awarded song of the year and Rivermaya’s Free was the best album. In the Awit Awards, Parokya ni Edgar’s ‘Inuman Na’ bagged best alternative record, Sandwich won best performance by a group with their song ‘Butterfly Carnival,’ and Wolfgang’s ‘Atomica’ was the rock record of the year.
Some iconic TV shows also made their debut in 2000, namely Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in IBC 13, Pangako Sa ’Yo in ABS-CBN, and Imbestigador that’s still on air in GMA 7.
On the tech side, the way people communicated with friends online was not through Facebook, Viber, or even Friendster, but through mIRC (CTC anyone?). The Sony Playstation 2 was also the biggest gadget released at the time, and the hottest cellphone? Nokia 3310.
And if you're wondering, presidentiables Rodrigo Duterte was then a congressman, Mar Roxas a DTI secretary in the cabinet of then-president Joseph Estrada, Miriam Defensor-Santiago was a Senator, and Jojo Binay was the MMDA chairman. Grace Poe? Most probably still based in the US at that time.