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1979-1984: Gilbey's Gin

Joining the league in 1979, it was known as Gilbey's Gin of then-owner Carlos Palanca Jr.'s La Tondeña franchise. Its first head coach was Pilo Pumaren and was bannered by former MICAA standout Willie Tanduyan and imports Larry McNeil and Dean Tolson. Gilbey's managed to placed fourth in the 1979 Invitational tournament.

Willie Generalao won the Rookie of the Year honors during the 1980 season as Gilbey's placed fourth in the All-Filipino tournament.

Gilbey's also changed its name one time as St. George Whiskies when they had a bunch of young teenagers acting as cheerleaders. [1].

In 1982, the Gins made it to their first Finals appearance during the Open Conference. But, they were swept by Toyota team of coach Ed Ocampo, Robert Jaworski, and Ramon Fernandez.

Gilbey's made another Finals appearance in the 1983 All-Filipino but was also swept by Tommy Manotoc's Crispa Redmanizers in the first of three titles won by the fabled Redmanizers squad.

Before the 1984 PBA season, Toyota announced its departure from the league after winning nine titles in nine seasons. As part of an agreement with new team Beer Hausen, the rights of the Toyota players will be acquired by Beer Hausen. The team owned by Lucio Tan is entering its first year in the PBA.

Jaworski and backcourt partner Francis Arnaiz refused to join the Beer Hausen team. This further ingnited the internal Toyota feud between Jaworski and Fernandez which went on for the next several years. With this development, Gilbey's accepted Jaworski, Arnaiz and Arnie Tuadles to name a few while several Toyota players, led by Fernandez, joined Beer Hausen.

Gilbey's suffered another loss in the championship as the Crispa Redmanizers defeated the Gins, 4-1, giving Crispa its last PBA

1985-1987: Ginebra San Miguel

By 1985, Gilbey's was renamed as Ginebra San Miguel. Following the recruitement of the immensely popular backcourt tandem of Robert Jaworski and Francis Arnaiz, the fanbase of Ginebra grew. These were mostly Toyota fans that followed the two stalwarts. (The precursor of the wild Baranggay Ginebra that cheered themselves hoarse in the rafters were the old raucous Toyota cheering squads that rumbled with Crispa fans in the rafters of the Araneta Coliseum). With Jaworski and Arnaiz at the forefront, Ginebra's fanbase grew larger. It grew as the ex Toyota backcourt infected the team with the legendary Toyota fighting spirit:

In 1985, Ginebra established itself as the "people's team" when they displayed their never-say-die attitude on court. The biggest manifestation was when their leader, Jaworski came back from the nearby Medical City with seven stitches in his lip to lead the Gins to a come-from-behind victory against NCC. Jaworski incurred this from a wayward elbow inflicted by Jeff Moore in the second canto. But with them behind by 15 points going into the final seven minutes of the game, Jaworski re-entered the court and sparked a frenzy that to date, has yet been matched. The NCC team simply froze upon sight of the Big J and didn't know what hit them, eventually losing to the Gins.[2]

Jaworski and Arnaiz turned the moribund franchise into a competitive one almost overnight when in the first conference of the 1984 season, the All Filipino, they led the team to a runnerup finish against powerhouse Crispa.

However in 1985, Ginebra failed to enter the finals in each of the three conferences, despite the team's growing number of fan support, showing only a strong third place finish in the Reinforced Conference.

Michael Hackett also saw his name in the PBA record books by scoring 103 points in Ginebra's 197-168 victory against Great Taste on November 21, 1985. This was later broken by Swift's Tony Harris in a 1992 game, against Ginebra.

Former Crispa import Billy Ray Bates was brought in for the 1986 Open Conference. Each PBA team was allowed to get two imports for the said conference. Bates' other partner was Michael Hackett, who was the 1985 Open Conference Best Import. It is believed that the pair was the greatest import tandem in PBA history.

The super imports combined to lead Ginebra in the Finals of the tournament against the Lucio Tan franchise now known as Manila Beer, with the newly acquired Abet Guidaben and imports Michael Young and Harold Keeling. Bates and Hackett powered Ginebra to a convincing 4-1 win in the series to give the team its first-ever championship.

Unfortunately, Francis Arnaiz suddenly left for the United States before Ginebra won this first championship, ending his 11-year PBA career and popular backcourt tandem with Jaworski.

1988-1990: Añejo Rhum 65

In 1988, Ginebra changed their name to Añejo Rhum with the team already gaining a rugged style of play. Añejo took on new team Purefoods in the Finals of the All-Filipino Conference. Añejo won the series 3-1 over the young Purefoods team led by Jerry Codinera and Jojo Lastimosa (who had a confrontation with Jaworski). At that time Ramon Fernandez was benched by Purefoods management for alleged game-fixing. In the final game, three Ginebra players scored 25 points or more - Joey Loyzaga, Dondon Ampalayo and Sonny Jaworski as the Gins didn't allow the then rookie-laden Purefoods team to gain confidence, winning by a comfortable 9 point margin. Of course, the game was close all throughout until the final 3 minutes of the game when Loyzaga and Jaworski uncorked timely 3 pointers that sealed the fate of Purefoods.[3]

In the season-ending Reinforced Conference wherein teams were allowed two imports each, Añejo again hired the great Billy Ray Bates and paired him with soon-to-be Boston Celtics starter Kevin Gamble. But at this time, Bates was fading and was clearly just a shadow of his old self. After only four games, PBA's "greatest import ever" was sent home for good. Añejo would finish the season with the exciting and high-scoring duo of "Jumpin'" Joe Ward and Tommy Davis as imports.

On the next season, Añejo lost in five games to the grand slam winning San Miguel Beer in the Third (Reinforced) Conference. In that Conference, Añejo paraded another super import in Carlos Briggs who easily bagged the Best Import Award.

In 1990, Añejo entered the finals of the First Conference against Benjie Paras and the Shell Rimula X team. In Game Six, with Shell already leading the series 3-2, Añejo protested a foul on Rey Cuenco with a few minutes left in the second quarter. This led to the infamous walk out of Añejo. The team also complained about the unfavorable officiating as the team had more fouls than Shell. In the end, the game was forfeited and awarded the title to Shell.

The result of this event gave the team a fine of more PHP 500,000 which was then the highest fine in league history.

[edit] 1991-1996: Back to Ginebra San Miguel

In 1991, Añejo reverted back to Ginebra. They met Shell once again in the 1991 First Conference title series. Shell got the upper hand by taking a 3-1 series, needing only a win to clinch the series. But Ginebra managed a furious comeback to force a seventh game. In the final seconds of Game 7, an off-balanced shot by Rudy Distrito with a second remaining sealed Ginebra's third PBA title and completed the greatest comeback in PBA history.

Ginebra placed third in the 1992 Third Conference but at that time the team was starting to fade.

In the 1993 pre-season, the Gins were given the second overall pick in the 1993 PBA draft behind new team Sta. Lucia Realty (which replaced Presto). They drafted former FEU power forward Victor Pablo but immediately traded him to 7-Up Uncolas for veterans Manny Victorino and Alejo Alolor. The said trade was lambasted by most fans, and it cost Ginebra their performance for the year where they compiled a record of 9-26 win-loss slate in all three conferences. This horrible performance gave them the top pick in the next draft.

In 1994, in an effort to change their fortunes, the team was renamed as Tondeña Rhum 65. The team selected Noli Locsin with their first pick, and was hoped by many fans to save the team for the season. But Tondeña's struggles continued, winning just 12 of the 32 games that year.

In 1995, the team reverted again to Ginebra. They selected 7-0 center Edward Joseph Feihl and also drafted Jaworski's son, Robert Jr. The drafting of Feihl surprised many basketball analysts. They were expecting Ginebra to either draft Kenneth Duremdes or Jeffrey Cariaso at that time. Jaworski later quoted "It's not everyday that you see a 7-footer applying for the draft." Unfortunately, misfortunes still struck the team as Ginebra won only 5 of the 30 games played that year, capped by a 0-10 win-loss record during the Governor's Cup. The worst season triggered rumors that Ginebra was disbanding. But the rumor was quickly killed off after the team posted a printed advertisement in major newspapers that they were staying in the PBA. As a result, Ginebra snagged the top pick again in the next draft. This was the last time a PBA team with the worst record was awarded the top pick in the draft. In the succeeding drafts, the worst PBA team had to compete with the second worst team via lottery to determine the No. 1 ranking in the PBA draft.

In 1996, Ginebra used the top overall pick to draft controversial center Marlou Aquino from Adamson University. Aquino was a big star in the PBL for Nikon and Stag Pale Pilsen but was involved in a controversial scandal in terms of his academic status with Adamson although it was somewhat neglected when he jumped pro. Aquino showed the promise Ginebra fans expected during the All-Filipino Conference as Ginebra won fourth place that tournament. It also showed the discovery of former University of Santo Tomas point guard Bal David as one of the team's popular players along with Vince Hizon, Jayvee Gayoso and Pido Jarencio.

In the Commissioner's Cup, the team was paraded by NBA veteran Henry James as Ginebra wound up in a knockout match against familiar rival Formula Shell. Kenny Redfield's buzzer-beating three enabled Formula Shell to enter the finals. Ginebra finally entered the Finals of the Governors Cup but lost to the grand slam winning Alaska Milkmen in five games.

Aquino's impact on Ginebra gave the team a 30-game improvement from a year ago and was named as the Rookie of the Year.

1997-1998: Gordon's Gin Boars

Gordon's Gin Boars logo from 1998 to 1999
Gordon's Gin Boars logo from 1998 to 1999

In 1997, Ginebra was renamed once again, this time as the Gordon's Gin Boars. Gordon's was now considered as a title favorite for the league's 23rd season.

One of the most memorable shots in team history was Bal David's final second heave from half-court to defeat San Miguel by a point during the All-Filipino Cup.

Gordon's entered the Finals of the All-Filipino against the Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys. Purefoods managed to take a 3-1 series lead. In Game Five, they were about to score a winning basket after a Gordon's turnover. But Vince Hizon blocked Dindo Pumaren's layup, as the Boars lived another day. Unfortunately, in Game Six, the strong performance of Alvin Patrimonio and company denied Gordon's a title losing the series 4-2. The loss marked Jaworski's (playing coach) last game with the La Tondeña franchise and did not enter himself in a game since.

In the Commissioner's Cup, NBA veteran Chris King became a replacement in time for the semis of the tournament. Gordon's met sister-team San Miguel in a knockout semifinal match. It was a true classic game that went to double overtime and saw several comebacks by Gordon's. The Boars won, 105-101, to meet Alaska in the finals. Gordon's eventually defeated Alaska in six games for their first title in six years. Jaworski got into the mic and thanked the Gordon's Gin fans for their support.

Expectations were high for the Governor's Cup, but they were eliminated by Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals.

In 1998, Jaworski ran for a senatorial seat for the elections which he won by a lot of votes. This led to a conflict between Jaworski's role in the Senate and his role as coach of Ginebra (named during the Commissioner's Cup). Assistant Rino Salazar was named as interim at one point. Ginebra still struggled despite the addition of Bong Alvarez to the team.

That year, Danding Cojuangco regained ownership of San Miguel Corporation. One of the moves the team made was adding Allan Caidic from San Miguel Beer. This caused a rift between Jaworski and the new management because he was not informed of the move. In a press conference held at the Senate, Jaworski resigned as playing coach of Ginebra.

To this day, Jaworski hasn't announced his retirement, but before he quit his post, he was considered the oldest basketball player on any roster at 52 years of age.

1999-Present: Barangay Ginebra Kings

Brgy. Ginebra Kings logo from 1999 to 2000
Brgy. Ginebra Kings logo from 1999 to 2000

After Jaworski left, the team still enjoyed popularity. The chant of Ginebra! Ginebra! filled the air wherever the team was playing. It is said that their fans can compose a barangay, hence the phrase Barangay Ginebra came into being to denote the team's legions of fans.

In 1999, the team was then officially called Barangay Ginebra. Now, "Barangay Ginebra" did not only denote to the fans of the team, but to the club as well. It is often said that wherever Ginebra plays, they have a homecourt advantage.

In the All-Filipino, Brgy. Ginebra only managed to finish 8th in the eliminations, and needed to win twice against the first-seeded Mobiline Phone Pals team of Asi Taulava. The Kings managed to forced a knockout match, winning the first game. In the decider, Brgy. Ginebra came back from a 20 point deficit and Bal David's off-balance game-winner resulted in one of the biggest upsets in league history to advance to the next round. Taulava was seen crying in disappointment after the game. In the semis, they were eliminated by eventual champion Shell that was marred by a scuffle in Game One of the series.

Noli Locsin was later traded to Pop Cola for the acrobatic Vergel Meneses but it still didn't help the Kings throughout the season. Allan Caidic replaced Rino Salazar as the team's head coach. In the offseason, Marlou Aquino was also traded, this time to Sta Lucia for Jun Limpot.

Brgy. Ginebra was eliminated early in the quarterfinals by Tanduay in the 2000 All-Filipino Cup as well as the Commissioner's Cup. With Brian Green as import for the Governors' Cup, the Kings tried to repeat the same result of the 1999 All-Filipino against Mobiline. But the Phone Pals were able to beat Brgy. Ginebra in the knockout match.

In 2001, Barangay Ginebra drafted Filipino-American Mark Caguioa, a virtual unknown in the Philippine basketball scene. Despite that, Caguioa showed brilliance during the All-Filipino, earning his current nickname The Spark. The Kings finished 5th in the eliminations and faced Purefoods, who had a twice-to-beat advantage, in the quarterfinals. In a repeat of the events of two years ago, the Kings were able to defeat the TJ Hotdogs twice, after an off-balanced game-winner by Ronald Magtulis, to enter the semis. The Kings faced Shell in a five-game affair, and Brgy. Ginebra upset the top-seeded Turbo Chargers in five games to meet sister team San Miguel in the finals. Barangay Ginebra trailed 0-2 but won the next two games to tie the series at 2-2. In the end though, the Beermen won the series in six games.

Ginebra's success in the All-Filipino were not duplicated in the import-laced Commissioner's and Governor's Cup as they were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

After the season, the Kings acquired Eric Menk from Tanduay to solidy their frontline for the 2002 season. Unfortunately, Menk was loaned to the Philippine team and the Kings struggled throughout the Governor's and Commissioner's Cups, once again failing to enter the semis. In the All-Filipino, Menk made his Ginebra debut but the team did not enter the quarterfinals.

Rommel Adducul finally made his PBA debut after his years with the Metropolitan Basketball Association. Barangay Ginebra selected the former San Sebastian College - Recoletos Stag as the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft. His addition though, did not help Ginebra's fortune to change for the 29th season. In the All-Filipino conference, they were eliminated by eventual champions, Talk N' Text Phone Pals in the quarterfinals. They also failed to qualify for the Invitational tournament, after being eliminated by eventual champions, Alaska Aces in the qualifying rounds. In the season ending Reinforced Conference, they were knocked out by sister team and eventual champions, Coca Cola Tigers in the quarterfinals.

2004-2005: Back-to-back titles

At the start of the 2004 PBA Fiesta Conference, Caidic was promoted to team manager and was replaced by former San Miguel assistant coach Siot Tanquincen. One of Tanquincen's best moves was to give more playing time to comebacking Jayjay Helterbrand over veteran Bal David, who was nursing an injury. His partnership with Mark Caguioa was later dubbed by ABC Sports commentators as the "Fast and the Furious." The team also traded Jun Limpot and Rob Johnson to sister team Purefoods in exchange for Rodney Santos and Andy Seigle. The changes helped Ginebra to become a strong team during the season.

And in July 7, 2004, Barangay Ginebra ended a 7-year title drought when they defeated Red Bull Barako in a best of 5 finals, 3-1, capturing the transition 2004 Fiesta Conference. During that time, Torraye Braggs was their import player. It was actually a total miracle as the team was only seeded 7th after the classification rounds. In the sudden death wildcard phase, they came back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Sta. Lucia Realtors. In the quarterfinal round, they had a 2-1 record, good enough to make it to the semifinals. In the best of 3 semifinals, they eventually survived the Talk N' Text Phone Pals in Game 3 on their way to the finals.

In February 11, 2005, Barangay Ginebra proved that the last championship was not a fluke by winning the next conference, the 2004-2005 Philippine Cup, a conference without imports. They dethroned the defending champions Talk N' Text Phone Pals, 4-2, in a controversial best of 7 Finals series. Game One was forfeited in favor of Ginebra when Phone Pals star center Asi Taulava, who was ineligible to play, entered the game. His citizenship case was still on the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation. The Kings filed a protest prior to the start of game one. Barangay Ginebra carried the momentum and went on to win the championship. This was also the first time in franchise history that they won back-to-back championships.

[edit] 2005-2006: Ginebra-Red Bull playoffs duel

The Kings' victory over Red Bull in the 2004 Fiesta Conference broke the flawless finals record of the Bulls. And it proved to be costly too, as Red Bull would go on to master Ginebra in the next 3 conferences that would follow after the Kings' back-to-back championships, denying the Kings numerous chances to rewrite history.

In the 2004-05 Fiesta Conference, Barangay Ginebra had a chance to rewrite history by winning the last possible 3-conference championship grand slam. Unfortunately, obstacles such as import problems, injury to star point guard Jayjay Helterbrand and the suspension of future MVP Eric Menk due to citizenship issues, made the team struggle throughout the conference. They placed 9th of 10 teams in the conference after being swept by Red Bull Barako in the best of 3 wildcard phase of the playoffs. Red Bull Barako took 4th place after being defeated by eventual champions, and Ginebra's sister team, San Miguel Beermen.

In the 2005-2006 Fiesta Conference, Barangay Ginebra was seeded to the semifinals after winning the 2nd seed playoff against Red Bull Barako. Original import Sean Lampley was replaced in time for the playoffs, by former Auburn University standout Chris Porter, in order to strengthen Ginebra's quest to regain the Fiesta Conference title. But, his addition was not enough to help the Kings reach the Finals.

They faced Red Bull Barako themselves in the semifinals, and eventually lost in the series, 4-3. But the Kings showed real fighting heart as they came back and tied the series, after being down 1-3. It was an emotional series for the fans, who were expecting for a repeat of the historic comeback made by the team during the 1991 First Conference.

After the series, coach Siot Tanquincen, apologized to the legion of the team's fans. It was also revealed that Mark Caguioa was playing hurt and had a hamstring injury throughout the series. Barangay Ginebra battled Air21 Express for 3rd place honors but lost. In that game, an evidently lackluster Barangay Ginebra team played, which was believed to be still emotionally down from their game 7 defeat. Red Bull Barako eventually won the championship against the Purefoods Chunkee Giants in six games.

In the 2005-2006 Philippine Cup, Barangay Ginebra finished with a 7-9 win-loss record in the classification phase. Being defending champions, they were considered as favorites to win the tournament. Unfortunately, injuries haunted the team as players began to fall one by one. All-stars Eric Menk and Rommel Adducul and role players Rodney Santos and Andy Seigle all suffered injuries during the conference. The Kings made a gallant stand in the wildcard phase as role players Manny Ramos, Allan Salansang, Ervin Sotto and Mark Macapagal, were able to step up their games. Ginebra took the sixth and final spot in the quarterfinals after defeating Air21 on June 4 with a 118-114 overtime victory as Mark Caguioa recorded a new career-high with 45 points.

However, the Kings still fell short as they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Red Bull, 3-2. After Ginebra led 2-1 in the series, the Bulls clinched the series by defeating the Kings by more than 25 points in the last two games. The Bulls went on to survive the Beermen in 7 semis games, before being denied a grand slam themselves by the Giants

2006-07 Season: Star-studded team

In the off season, the Kings were involved in the controversial three-way-team trade with Coca-Cola Tigers and Air21 Express. The first part of the trade saw the Express sending Ryan Bernardo and its 2007 and 2008 first-round draft picks to the Tigers for Rafi Reavis, Billy Mamaril and the rights to Rudy Hatfield. The second part sent Reavis, Mamaril and Hatfield's rights from the Express to the Kings for Kalani Ferreria, Aries Dimaunahan, Manny Ramos, and Ervin Sotto plus the Kings two second-round draft picks this year and a future first-round pick. The third part was voided by Commissioner Noli Eala, which would have allowed the Express to regain its own 2007 and 2008 picks plus the Tigers' 2008 second round draft pick from Coke, in exchange for Ferreria and Ramos plus the second-round pick this year and the future first-round pick. Air21 and Coca-Cola submitted a revised version of that part of the trade and was approved by Commissioner Eala.

Under the revised version, the Express will trade Manny Ramos and Kalani Ferreria plus two second-round picks acquired from San Miguel and Ginebra to the Tigers. The Tigers retained Air21's 2007 and 2008 first-round picks but traded away their 2008 and 2009 first-round picks.

The trade has been questioned by many within the league as a one-sided trade. It also speculated the rumors of Coca-Cola's possible disbandment from the league, which was denied in a statement released by the president of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc.(CCBPI) and PBA board of governors for the Coca-Cola Tigers.

Also, the coaching staff underwent a major revamp with Jong Uichico, from sister team San Miguel Beer, taking over coaching duties from Siot Tanquingcen. Tanquingcen demoted as assistant coach, along with Art Dela Cruz and Junno Sauler. Dela Cruz is also from San Miguel Beer, having served as assistant coach, while Sauler is a holdover from Tanquingcen's coaching staff. Uichico, Tanquincen, and Dela Cruz powered San Miguel Beer in their late-90s championship run and also helped win their 17th title.

As part of their preparations for the 2006-07 PBA season, the team competed in the 6th Shell Rimula Brunei Cup but failed to make it to the semis after losing close games. They started the PBA pre-season tournament with a 90-75 drubbling of Purefoods,[4] but failed to advance to the pre-season finals due to an inferior record of only 2-2.

Rudy Hatfield made a comeback from years of absence and he decided to play for Ginebra alongside with his bestfriend, Eric Menk.

Coca-cola released Johnny Abarrientos 2 weeks before the start of PBA and Ginebra was able to catch him as back-up guard for Jayjay Helterbrand. His court generalship will be additional factor as Kings' powerhouse line-up.

2006-2007 Philippine Cup

In the season opener, the Kings defeated the expansion Welcoat Dragons 102-69 on October 1. Two victories over sister team Purefoods and Air21 gave Ginebra an early 3-0 record before being defeated by Red Bull in a hyped matchup on October 15.

Rommel Adducul was later sent to the San Miguel Beermen as part of a three-team deal which involved Red Bull, a non-SMC squad. [5] Ironically, the following game saw the two sister teams face off at the Cuneta Astrodome, in a game which the Beermen edged 101-97 in overtime, after leading by as much as 20 points during the regulation period. At the middle of the elimination round, they have acquired the energetic Ronald Tubid from the Air21 Express. [6] Midway through the elimination round, the team managers of SMC squads were shuffled. Ginebra's team manager, Allan Caidic was replaced by Samboy Lim and Caidic was sent to the Coca-Cola Tigers. The Kings advanced to the semifinals as the first seed. [7] On the semifinal series against the Phone Pals, they won the pivotal Game 5 where the series was tied 2-2, leading to the series clinching Game 6 win.

In the finals, Ginebra met sister team San Miguel Beer and fell behind 0-2 early in the series. They would win their next four games, with games 3 and 4 being blowouts, being only the fifth PBA team to win the title after losing their first two games. Ginebra's backcourt general Jayjay Helterbrand sank the two crucial free throws of Game 6, was adjudged Finals MVP, while Mark Caguioa the consistent scoring machine won the Best Player of the Conference award.

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