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These PBA expansion teams didn't take long to win first PBA titles

March 24 ------ BLACKWATER and Terrafirma, the last two expansion teams in the PBA, have been enjoying rare success early in their Philippine Cup campaigns. The Bossing and the Dyip currently own a similar 3-2 win-loss cards ahead, and even occupied the top spot in the standings at one point for winning the first two matches of the elimination round.  


Their current form, at least for the beginning of the conference, is encouraging since Blackwater and Kia (former name of Terrafirma) haven’t won a championship since they entered the league in 2014. The Dyip franchise have reached the playoffs just once during their entire existence. Some expansion teams in the past, however, didn’t struggle as much as Blackwater and Terrafirma, even winning a championship shortly after they entered the league. Here are a few of them, and the circumstances in how they were able to win the title. 



Two years after it was founded in 1988, the Hotdogs bagged the 1990 Third Conference title in a 3-2 series win over Alaska. The ballclub was already competitive upon their entry in the league after being allowed to sign players directly from the amateur ranks which turned out to be Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, Jojo Lastimosa, and Glenn Capacio. Purefoods made it to the finals in their first two conferences in the league, but settled for second place on both occasions. Apparently, it was just a matter of time before Purefoods would claim the breakthrough title. Despite their strong core, the team continued to pile up good players, selecting Nelson Asaytono and Dindo Pumaren in the 1989 draft. Even the hero of the title-clinching game, Al Solis, was a result of a signing in 1988 after transferring from Shell to Purefoods before the franchise even took the floor that season. 



The expansion team in 2000 was able to acquire six players from their amateur ballclub for their first year in the league, namely Kerby Raymundo, Lordy Tugade, Junthy Valenzuela, Jimwell Torion, Davonn Harp, and Bernard Tanpua. It also lured Yeng Guiao away from his post as Philippine Basketball League commissioner to become its coach. The first year wasn’t exactly a successful one, although Red Bull reached the playoffs during the Governors’ Cup. Still, the team was able to secure the No. 1 draft pick the following year and used it to select Willie Miller. 


Red Bull was all of a sudden a title contender in 2001, adding former Duke player Tony Lang to join the team in the Commissioner’s Cup where itcaptured a first-ever title by beating San Miguel in six games, just a year after the George Chua-owned franchise's entry in the pro league. 



The RFM Franchise entered the league in 1990 as one of two expansion teams [the other was Pepsi], but quickly made its mark the following year. Coincidentally, it was also Yeng Guiao who was the first coach of the ballclub. But unlike Purefoods and Red Bull, Swift didn't have any concessions, building the team from the ground up through the expansion draft and the regular draft. Carrying the Sarsi brand, the franchise reached the finals of the 1991 All-Filipino Conference, losing to Purefoods in the last game of their best-of-five series. The wait didn’t took long as the Mighty Meaties captured the crown via sweep of 7-Up in the 1992 Third Conference. 


Among the moves Swift made on its way to the championship is the signing of Al Solis through free agency in 1991, the Nelson Asaytono trade in 1992, and the hiring of super-import Tony Harris in 1992. “From whipping boys to champions,” wrote Rocky Nazareno in his piece for the Standard of Swift’s title-clinching victory. 




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