Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Eulogy for the Powerade Tigers


     December 2001, PBA Governor's Cup, The uncertain Pop Cola Panthers barge in to the battle for 3rd against the Shell Turbo Chargers. Donning their black and blue jerseys in what could be the final game of the team. During the term of the conference, it was uncertain if the Panthers will be sold to the SMC Conglomerate or not. Fresh from acquiring Purefoods from the Ayalas, SMC wanted the franchise along with Cosmos Bottling Corporation, but some factions did not want that to happen. The result is Pop Cola becoming the Swift Panthers for a few games. Like the Tigers, Pop was coming off a great run in the All Filipino Cup; Barging in from Winless (0-9) in the Governor's Cup 2000, to a win shy of making the finals against SMB. The team would eventually take third place honors and RFM would have its last significant run as Selecta-RP before Lee sang min ended it in the Asiad.

     The same can be said for their descendants, the Powerade Tigers. Donned with their fully sublimated black and blue threads(which reminded me of the Panthers)The team caught the league (and it's history) by becoming the first 8th seeded to reach the finals. Not only did they barge through it, they did it with a dramatic fairy tale fashion that would even put some of our local soap operas to shame. Down by as much as 17 pts and an ejection from one of it's guards, the Tigers clawed their way back into the game and won in overtime. In one of the best games in the history of the league, led by Gary David's flaming hands. However, not the same can be said for the next two conferences It became a squad needing a single win to make it to the semis but was electrocuted by the Meralco Bolts in 2 straight knockout games.

      There are more colorful stories inside Coke's stay in the PBA. On its first season, it was able to reach the finals and ultimately won on Christmas day of 2002 with it's core of 90's Alaska players beating their former team. I remember hearing coach Chot Reyes on our leadership seminar back in college where he predicted the Tigers will get a title that season upon day one of the team's practice. The team reached the finals the next three conferences and won their last title at the expense of Cedric Ceballos and the San Miguel Beermen.

      The next few conferences weren't as lucky as the Tigers languished into mediocrity and ultimately at the bottom of the standings until this season's Cinderella run.

      Some faithful fans do try to connect the Tigers with the Sunkist/ Swift/ Pop/ Sarsi Lineage, others don't. This time, we'll see if fans will still connect them with the Harbour center franchise. The Harbour center team is a proud organization itself, winning multiple PBL championships and the first Asean Basketball League crown. One thing that a proud franchise would be expected do in the PBA is that it would try to be competitive,  No lopsided trades, no players selling. Hopefully the tiger core will see the light once again.

     As I end this post, I say goodbye to the second incarnation of the Swift Mighty Meaties. Thanks for the christmas day miracle, the flaming hands, those awesome sublimated jerseys. Coke will be etched in the annals of PBA history along with it's predecessors. Goodbye Powerade tigers.

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