MANILA, Philippines - It has all the ingredients to establish a new order in the pro league rock-steady veterans, talented, explosive rookies and a mentor who had become the winningest in the league.
It’s a potent mix for the Mixers.
Back-to-back championships and three titles in the last six conferences all make San Mig Coffee a steaming hot property for a PBA dynasty.
Wednesday night’s victory over Rain or Shine did not only become a coronation night for the all-Filipino titlists but also gave a hint as to what’s in store for the franchise.
But right now, coach Tim Cone said they’re satisfied to be called the PBA’s best as winner of the league’s most coveted crown.
Cone and his troops bagged the 2014 Philippine Cup title by drubbing the Elasto Painters, 93-87, Wednesday night to complete one of most unforgettable championship rides in league history.
“It’s awesome, we could actually say we’re the best team in the country. That’s what you get in winning the all-Filipino tourney,” said Cone. “We don’t have the best import. We’re the best team or best players that play together.”
What lies ahead for his team excites the champion coach.
“We’re not getting near what Talk n Text has been doing and what the Alaska team of the 90s achieved. But these guys are developing a special bond,” said Cone.
“I honestly feel we’re developing that. It would be interesting to see if we can generate energy to come back and contend in the next conference. But we feel we have a good import who could be infectious for us,” Cone added.
The Purefoods/B-Meg/San Mig Coffee ball club, with 11 titles, is the league’s fourth winningest team behind San Miguel Beer/Petron (19), Alaska Milk (14) and Crispa (13). But never in the history of the franchise had it won back-to-back crowns and three titles in six conferences.
“We’re happy to put that together. That’s another I’m so proud of,” said Cone.
The last team to achieve the feat was Talk n Text. Others were Crispa, Toyota, Great Taste, Tanduay, San Miguel Beer, Alaska and Ginebra.
“We’ll see what we can do next conference, but the competition in the PBA has never been as strong as now. Usually, the league has one or two elite teams with the rest battling around them. Now there are four or five elite teams,” said Cone.
Cone pointed out they barely sneaked in to win the tourney. “Ginebra dominated early on, then Rain or Shine had its dominant run. We’re barely above .500 but we played well at the right time,” said Cone.
The Mixers did peak at playoff time, becoming the lowest seed team in years to emerge as champion.
San Mig Coffee defied the odds as the No. 5 seed, upending fourth ranked Talk n Text in the quarterfinals, outlasting top seed Barangay Ginebra in a gut-wrenching Game 7 in the semifinals, and finally beating the second seed Rain or Shine in the titular playoff.
The victory also enabled Cone to surpass Baby Dalupan’s record of 15 championships.
But for Cone, no one would ever surpass or even match Dalupan’s greatness.
“I’m thrilled. The most thrilling part is to be able to bring back the legacy of coach Baby Dalupan in the consciousness of the PBA fans especially the young ones,” he said.
“But no one would equal Baby. He’s one of the greatest in the world with 41 championships (in the UAAP, NCAA, MICAA and the PBA). It’s just an amazing stat. It’s a great tribute to him. I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” he added.
But Cone wouldn’t forget not to give credit to a topnotch rival that dragged them to an epic title battle.
“You look at this series. In complete honesty, three or four games could have gone either way. We could’ve been staring at a 1-3 deficit, instead of leading 3-1,” said Cone. “We won a couple of games that you don’t normally win against Rain or Shine.”
“For once we beat them,” Cone also said.