1986 is a defining year for our country. Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines to “give” Cory Aquino the presidency (haha) and the PBA is a shell of its former self.
Founding franchises Tanduay and Great Taste alongside Ginebra, Manila Beer, Shell, and the debuting Alaska squad were tasked to keep the league afloat. I know we hold these players in high regard but whoever thought the likes of Padim Israel and JV Yango could claim a Mythical Second Team achievement over the likes of… well Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Bogs Adornado, and Abet Guidaben that season.
So if 1987 had the lowest participation, 1985 had the talent snubs, and the 2005 PBA Draft started the two rounds restriction, number seven has a severe case of… political bullshit.
1986 PBA Draft
If the 1987 PBA Draft had lack of depth, 1986 is no different. Ferdinand Marcos found himself in Hawaii after the world-famous People Power Revolution toppled the dictator. Unfortunately for Team Pilipinas, this also brought down the Cojuangco-backed Northern Consolidated Cement Philippine Team. Not only did The Philippines withdrew our participation from what is now known as the FIBA Asia Championship, San Miguel also had to take a leave from the PBA.
After two conferences, the franchise returned as the Magnolia Cheese Makers. When they went on hiatus, they decided to let go of their players like Rudy Distrito, Joey Loyzaga, Biboy Ravanes, and Marte Saldana. When the current San Miguel franchise returned, their team comprised of NCC players like Hector Calma, Samboy Lim, Franz Pumaren, Yves Dignadice, Alfie Almario, Tonichi Yturri, Elmer Reyes, and Pido Jarencio as well as former Magnolia-PABL players Jeffrey Graves and Alvin Teng.
Basically it’s like Manny Pangilinan dumping the core of Smart-Gilas into one squad.
I get that a season later Purefoods will inherit the Tanduay franchise and before that, Manila Beer disbanded. It’s also easy to point out that in 1986 the PBA only had six teams so a midway member could elevate league competition. Still, the league gave the now-San Miguel squad a monster push that would propel an otherwise so-so team to a yardstick for pro basketball excellence.
But what did that do to the 1986 PBA Draft?
While it wasn’t that horrendous, it wasn’t as well received as well. Expansion squad Alaska selected Arellano’s Rey Cuenco as the top pick of the draft. Lyceum’s Ricky Cui went to Manila Beer and USJ-R’s Dondon Ampalayo found his way to Ginebra. Aaron Torres then went to Tanduay to finish the first round. Naning Valenciano and Adonis Tierra were picked in the second round with Rey Ramos finishing the event as Alaska’s third round selection. In total, seven of fifteen applicants were selected. Just imagine if Magnolia participated in the draft… players like Jojo Villapando and Mukesh Advani could have been picked.
But then maybe that Magnolia core wouldn’t have happened. And with the 1986 ABC Championship halted, then the core of that squad could have scattered to the then-PBA teams.
More than the batch pull, this situation gave the San Miguel Beermen the unbridled dominance. The Beermen would lord the league in terms of individual and team accolades – including the 1989 Grand Slam. Of the seven teams participating in this PBA season, three would disband. Ginebra had the most wins this season but an aging squad would force the Kings to plummet in the early 90s. Sure, Purefoods, Alaska, and Shell would pull all stops to contain a San Miguel surge but it would take these teams nearly a decade to stop their title run. In some ways, while Purefoods, Alaska, and Sunkist would power their way in the early 90s, the injuries to Samboy and Dignadice, the departures of Teng and Reyes, and the last hurrahs of Fernandez and Calma paved the way for their decline.
Dignadice, the last player to play from that inaugural squad had nine titles – including that aforementioned1989 Grand Slam. Just imagine if San Miguel delayed its participation by a conference and have these players apply for the draft normally.
Meanwhile… ever imagined Hector Calma playing for a team other than San Miguel?
So this is number seven.
Who do you think came at number six?