This is a repost.
And I’ll just put a little 2019 re-imagination on this 2012 original creation.
Anyway for a couple of years now, I have been counting down the best players of the best PBA teams. Sometimes, I make my top player list either out of boredom or amazement. Most often, the best PBA teams aren’t really the best PBA teams.
But hey, whatever works.
Just type Sydrified or Sydman and then add your favorite team with the tag "best players" on Google and you might see one of my lists. Now it’s 2019 though, I am not so sure. I did too many re-launches that messed up my Google presence.
I promise to be a good boy from this day forth.
Now let me just state something. I don't know how to rate Tanduay's original version. I was born in 1982 and the only action I saw was the old Crispa and Toyota videos in Youtube. Plus, I don't know how to check out their old stats. Stats are the most important component of my lists and the last thing I want to be at the moment is the guy that disregards the facts.
That is why you have to forgive me for not concentrating on the franchise careers of Ramon Fernandez, Freddie Hubalde, Abet Guidaben, Rene Canent, Freddie Webb, Botchok Delos Santos, Abet Gutierrez, Mike Bilbao, Padim Israel, Mike Bilbao, and the others who donned the Tanduay colors from 1975 to 1987.
I am going to concentrate on the second version - the one I remembered, experienced, loved, and dread (with how this team tragically ended).
Anyway, when I did the original post back in 2012, famed basketball historians like PBA stats master Fidel Mangonon and Pinoy Exchange's Jay P. Mercado helped in making this blog possible.
In 1995, Stag Pale Pilsen joined the PBL. Bong Tan was the team's chief financier while Alfrancis Chua served as the coach. The team's starting unit is composed of multi-time PBL MVP Marlou Aquino, Mapua’s slam dunk sensation Reuben Dela Rosa, UP’s scoring machine Paul Raymund Du, DLSU’s King Archer Jason Webb, and former UST Growling Tiger Bal David. David at this point was left unsigned in the 1995 PBA Draft after becoming the third-round pick of the Sunkist Orange Juicers. Had he was signed to a contract, The Flash could have been the third UST player to play as a rookie in 1995 after top pick Dennis Espino and seventh overall pick Edmund Reyes.
Other notables from the 1995 squad are Randy Alcantara, Derrick Bughao, former DLSU forward Alvin Magpantay, former UST center Christopher Cantonjos, another DLSU star in Mark Telan, and free agents Jorge Gallent and "The Firecracker" Bobby Jose.
With this formidable crew, Stag became the first PBL team to finish a season with a grand slam. It also opened a lot of doors for most of their starting crew afterward as Aquino would become the first pick of the 1996 PBA Draft, Dela Rosa became the third pick, and the previously unsigned David was signed to a free agent contract by Ginebra. The partnership of Aquino and David would quickly translate to a title – this time in the PBA.
In the 1997 PBA Draft, Webb was taken third overall by the Sta. Lucia Realtors after Fil-Ams Andy Seigle and Nic Belasco.
Du and Alcantara went to the MBA in 1998 as did Dela Rosa who had a bad PBA stint.
Despite the departures to their key men, it was evident that they ruled the PBL.
Over the course of their PBL time, the team enlisted the services of UPHR quarterback Jomer Rubi, UST forward Gerard Francisco, DLSU sniper Renren Ritualo, and Letran spinner Willie Miller. From Stag, the team would play as the Tanduay Rhum Masters and the team would sign a dominating force in Eric Menk.
And in 1999, Tanduay became the ninth team of the PBA.
Tan and Chua continued their partnership and in their climb, they selected Menk as their direct hire Fil-Am and guys like Telan, Cantonjos, Rubi, Magpantay, and Bughao were elevated as rookies with Jose and Jorge Gallent getting signed as free agents.
The Rhum Masters would then snatch the first pick from Alaska and used the pick to acquire basketball beast, Sonny Alvarado.
In three years, the Rhum Masters was good for one finals stint (they lost to the Shell Turbo Chargers in the 1999 PBA All-Filipino Cup Finals, 4 games to 2). The Rhum Masters was more notable for their off-court controversies like the citizenship issues of Menk, Alvarado, and Rudy Hatfield, trying to acquire Danny Ildefonso for a shit-load of moolah, calling the PBA a “San Miguel” league and trading away their stars to SMC for duds before selling their franchise rights to the FedEx Express.
It’s hard to call them one of the best franchises of all time but they are certainly up there with regards to being the most controversial.
ALMOST | RUDY HATFIELD
2000 Mythical Ten
What's worse than stopping Menk and Alvarado? Well… it’s a third Fil-Am player that works as well as the aforementioned frontliners. Rudy Hatfield was virtually a walk-on applicant that previously played for the MBA's Laguna Lakers. Needless to say, Hatfield wowed the Rhum Master fans with his intensity and tenacity. The H-Bomb only played one season for Tanduay and he averaged 13.4ppg, 9.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.0spg, and 37.6mpg in 43 games. He was sent to the Pop Cola Panthers in 2001 where he again scored a Mythical Ten citation.
5 | DONDON HONTIVEROS
After a season with the Cebu Gems, Hontiveros got to fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the PBA via the Rhum Masters. The 1998 MBA Discovery of the Year joined Tanduay for two seasons where he averaged 11.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.7apg, and 27.7mpg in 82 games. The Cebuano Hotshot's main mission with the squad was to ably back up Jeffrey Cariaso but then he earned the starting nod with the citizenship issues that involved Eric Menk and Sonny Alvarado. After the Tanduay management traded all of their star players in lopsided deals, Hontiveros found himself donning the San Miguel Beermen jersey.
4 | JASON WEBB
Tanduay's All-Time Assists Leader
Tanduay's All-Time Steals Leader
Tanduay's All-Time Games Played
I know a lot of people who'll probably hate this notion. Jason Webb over Rudy Hatfield?!? THAT’S ABSURD! While I for one was disappointed in his scoring capabilities (or incapabilities) when he moved to the pros, Webb is not at all a bad player. Webb was on Alfrancis Chua's wish list and was happy when he got his former ward from the Realtors uncontested. The guy was still a gifted passer and a good playmaker back then although there was a time when people thought Webb would become the PBA’s version of Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Webb averaged 3.4ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.0spg, and 27.2mpg in 121 games. Webb and Christopher Cantonjos are the only Tanduay players to play 100 games and more for the squad and this would balloon to 175 if you also combine his games from its PBL version.
And yeah, Chua and Webb have since reunited via the Magnolia Hotshots in which there was a time when the former asked the latter to become the head coach (Webb would then cede the role to Chito Victolero).
3 | JEFFREY CARIASO
2000 Mythical Ten
2000 All-Defensive Team
Dubbed as The Jet because of his ability to zoom to the basket, Mr. Cariaso found himself playing for the expansion squad in 2000. With Menk, Hatfield, and Alvarado manning the paint, it was Cariaso's job to light up the aerial fireworks. However, Cariaso will also be instrumental in leading the Rhum Masters in surviving the PBA wear and tear following the citizenship issues of Menk, Hatfield, and Alvarado. In the two seasons The Jet played for the Rhum Masters, he averaged 16.3ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.9apg, and 36.7mpg in 79 games. Because his number 22 was already taken by Jayvee Gayoso, he wore the number 28 - the only time Cariaso wore a different number as a player in the PBA. The Jet flew for Tanduay for two seasons and then joined Hatfield in Coca-Cola when Tanduay disbanded.
2 | SONNY ALVARADO
1999 Mythical Five
1999 Total Points
1999 Highest Scoring Average
1999 Most Field Goals Made
1999 Most Free Throws Made
1999 Total Rebounds
1999 Most Defensive Rebounds
1999 Most Steals
Tanduay's All-Time Blocks Leader
1999 was the year of the Fil-Ams. It was also the year of the Fil-Shams. It was ironic though that with the league flooded with players of multiple ethnicities; it was still Benjie Paras who ruled the individual prize. Anyway, the Rhum Masters barely looked like an expansion squad when they selected Earl Sonny Alvarado as the top pick of the 1999 PBA Draft. Dubbed as The Big Punisher, Alvarado shocked everyone as an imposing force that could go either above the rim or outside the rainbow territory with relative ease. There was even a point where Tanduay's main man Eric Menk got upstaged by Alvarado… and if you ship the Menk versus Taulava rivalry, the Alvarado versus Danny Seigle rivalry could be a noteworthy watch as well. Unfortunately for the former Texas-El Paso star, his identity was revealed and he basically is not a Filipino. His citizenship was regarded as fake and he was deported with little fanfare. Instead of defending his Pinoy roots, Alvarado was off to Europe to play as an import. There is even a story in which Alfrancis Chua allegedly knew Alvarado is Puerto Rican and kept silent about it so he can pick him in the draft. Aside from the mentioned accolades, the only foreigner top pick in PBA history averaged 23.3ppg, 13.2rpg, 3.8apg, 2.2spg, 1.1bpg, and 42.7mpg in 65 games.
1 | ERIC MENK
1999 Mythical Ten
1999 All-Filipino Conference Best Player
1999 Most Offensive Rebounds
2000 Highest Scoring Average
Tanduay's All-Time Points Leader
Tanduay's All-Time Rebounds Leader
Tanduay's All-Time Minutes Leader
Without question, Major Pain is the heart and soul of the second version of the Tanduay franchise. Elevated by Bong Tan and Alfrancis Chua as a direct-hire Fil-Am, Menk became popular in the PBL because of his battles with the Fil-Tongan sensation Asi Taulava. He was also a key addition to Stag/Tanduay when the squad delivered title after title without the awesomeness of Marlou Aquino (who has since moved to the PBA). Menk was fundamentally sound and hardworking as hell. He would quietly score 20 points or more with I guess 15 rebounds to show also. It was almost evident that this guy brought the words "crashing the paint" to a whole new level. While he never got a Mythical Five selection with the team, he was the only Tanduay player to win a BPC when the Rhum Masters almost won against Benjie Paras and the rest of the Shell Turbo Chargers in the 1999 PBA All-Filipino Cup. Just like Alvarado, Menk was constantly harassed by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration with regard to his citizenship. When he was able to prove that his claims are legit, Tanduay was already cellar-dwelling in the standings and was on the verge of sale. Menk would finish his career with Tanduay with 21.6ppg, 13.0rpg, 2.7apg, and 43.8mpg in 80 starts.
If I'm going to make this a Top Ten, I'll probably add the names of Hatfield, Christopher Cantonjos, Noli Locsin, and Dindo Pumaren on the list. The problem here though is that their history is too brief... which was why I refrained from making this a top ten list.
Of course, there are those other notable personas that donned the Tanduay jerseys like Mark Telan, Bong Hawkins, Bobby Jose, Jayvee Gayoso, Pido Jarencio, Jomer Rubi, Wynne Arboleda, Derrick Bughao, Alvin Magpantay, Rene Alforque, Allan Yu, Jorge Gallent, and others but without championship and tenure, adding more names on the list would make the list forced.
While some could see Tanduay as a blessing because it gave mediocre stars a chance to strut their wares in the PBA, they kind of jeopardize the careers of Telan and Cantonjos. Teams are going to draft these guys in the top five but since they were elevated, they started their PBA campaigns as backups to Menk and Alvarado.
Shell selected Erwin Luna in 1999. Pop Cola needed a big man and ended up with Roel Buenaventura. So yeah, if Telan and Cantonjos started their careers as draft applicants, these two could have had a better career.
But then, what could have been the careers of Webb and Dela Rosa if they were part of the Tanduay squad that was elevated? I bet Chua knows how to use both players and we could have probably seen the scoring version of Webb.
The Tanduay rebirth lasted for just three years. At this point, we heard the rumors of Bong Tan's unbelievable contract deal to Danny Ildefonso that was basically a 16-year, 96-million deal. Their 2001 season was hell because aside from the fact that Alvarado was already deported, Menk was on the verge of joining Alvarado in persona-non-grata land... as were other Fil-Ams like Taulava, Alex Crisano, Dorian Pena, Mick Pennisi, Davonn Harp, Jon Ordonio, and Hatfield (the instigators of the witch hunt, Rob Parker and Al Segova have already left the PBA).
Because of the events, Chua was relieved as head coach to make way for Derrick Pumaren.
After saying that the PBA was a "San Miguel league", Bong Tan traded Hontiveros, Cariaso, Cantonjos, and Menk to the San Miguel Corporation teams. And then before the 2002 PBA season, the Tanduay Rhum Masters were officially shut down to give way for the FedEx Express.
Derrick Pumaren was retained as coach by the Express alongside holdovers Dindo Pumaren, Wynne Arboleda, and David Friedhof.
Currently, the mess Tanduay made is still felt in the PBA. When Welcoat took over from Shell, the Dragons were able to elevate only three players. Including Menk, the Rhum Masters had a total of six. And then NLEX had to pull out as the league’s thirteenth franchise and decided to buy the Air21 slot because the PBA decided to scrap the PBA D-League direct hires altogether. At least in this situation, NLEX owned a couple of existing contracts like what they have with Asi Taulava.
Tanduay is still in the basketball circuit, playing in various leagues with the most prominent of which is the MPBL's Batangas Athletics that became the first league champions.
I hope you like what I made.