Basketball in 2018: The San Miguel takeover
Paul Lintag on Dec 26, 2018 02:47 AM
TOO MANY MIGUELS! SMC teams were pretty dominant in 2018, sweeping all major basketball titles.
It was another good year for basketball in 2018.
In the case of the Philippine Basketball Association, they literally took one full year to complete. One year and two days actually.
That's a lot of basketball.
And that's just one league. Basketball die-hards were truly blessed in 2018.
To be honest, some of the things that happened literally only about five months ago, seem like a long time ago. That's how crazy this year has been.
In order to try and fit everything together in this year-end review, let's do things by category.
Let's play ball.
SAN MIGUEL TAKEOVER
Just to be clear here, by San Miguel, we mean San Miguel Corp.
SMC teams continued to lord it over in basketball in 2018, at least on this part of the world.
The flagship Beermen extended their dynasty in the Philippine Cup, beating Magnolia for a record four straight All-Filipino titles.
Considering how easy they won this year and with significant upgrades present, it looks like there's still no stopping the San Miguel Beermen in the most prestigious tournament the Philippines has to offer.
One team that did stop the Beermen this year were the Gin Kings of Brgy. Ginebra.
With super import Justin Brownlee saving the day once again, Ginebra stopped San Miguel's Grand Slam drive for the second straight season, capturing the Commissioner's Cup in six games at the expense of the Beermen.
The Gin Kings stay winning with Brownlee, if the guys makes the Finals, he's pretty much right on the money. Ginebra is a perfect three-fo-three in the Finals with Brownlee as import and in five conferences with the super scorer, the Gin Kings have made at least the semifinals each time.
In the Governors' Cup, we got Manila Clasico in the semifinals and for a change, it was Magnolia that came out on top in an absolute classic of a series.
The Hotshots used that momentum to win their first title since their Grand Slam season, completing an SMC Grand Slam in 2018.
It's the first time in history all three San Miguel teams won a title in the same year. That alone makes 2018 special.
SAN MIGUEL TAKEOVER PART 2
After Gilas Pilipinas pretty much imploded on its own (more on that later), the San Miguel takeover has finally extended to the national team.
The SMC stars were finally full force with Gilas and while the wins have not come just yet, it's pretty cool to see guys like Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter, and the rest of them play with the Gilas regulars of the yesteryears.
SAN MIGUEL TAKE OVER PART 3
Going away from the PBA a little bit, San Miguel stays winning as Alab Pilipinas brought the Asean Basketball League title back to the Philippine.
Alab, with Jimmy Alapag coaching and Renaldo Balkman and Justim Brownlee as lead import, beat Thailand's Mono Vampire in five games for the title.
It's the first ABL title for the Philippines since you guess it, San Miguel Beer's 2013 title with head coach Leo Austria and Asi Taulava.
Now we're getting to the good stuff.
In a year where commotions were a little more common than usual, one very specific commotion managed to stand out.
Actually, it was no mere commotion.
It was a full-on fight.
Back in July, Gilas Pilipinas engaged the Boomers of Australia in a massive brawl that resulted in ejections, suspensions, and fines that cost millions of pesos.
It also led to a national team coaching change and the San Miguel takeover in Gilas that we talked about before.
In between, we actually finally saw Jordan Clarkson in Gilas Pilipinas so that counts as a win even though we only placed 5th in the Asian Games.
Ultimately, the sad and unfortunate event that was the Gilas-Boomers brawl casted a bad reputation on the Philippine national team, one that Gilas might take a while to recover from.
Another rather unfortunate event this year was Kiefer Ravena's FIBA suspension.
[Related: Kiefer banned 18 months for using PEDs]
We all know the story so let's not dwell to much about such a tragic event. Let's just patiently wait for the Phenom's comeback.
August 2019 can't come soon enough.
If you thought 2018 was hectic, wait until we get to 2019.
The ABL is already in full swing and Alab's title defense should get into high gear as the new year starts. The PBA opens a new season in January.
Also, Gilas still has some stuff on the way with the national team's FIBA World Cup chase. We also host the Southeast Asian Games so that's another two weeks of basketball.
Other opportunities include the Asia League, NLEX and Blackwater did well in their Super 8 stints in Macau and it's interesting to find out who's going to represent the country in the emerging power in Asia.
If you thought 2018 was filled with great basketball, you're right. 2019 should be no different.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8