They say that there’s no ‘I’ in team, and these squads showed it for 10 long years. Consistency at its finest, as they say.
Here are the top teams of the decade that dominated headlines and won the hearts of the masses.
San Miguel Beermen
The early part of the decade wasn’t somewhat chaotic with all the Petronovela hullabaloo, but things took a turn for the better for the storied San Miguel franchise, as it went on to make history.
It started when Leo Austria assumed the Beermen’s head coaching post in 2014. He then immediately steered the June Mar Fajardo-powered crew to the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup championship.
That would mark the start of a dynasty. SMB won the next four Philippine Cups for an unprecedented five straight titles, making a strong case for the best all-Filipino crew ever assembled.
All in all, San Miguel has won a total of nine championships this decade — one in 2011 when it was still carrying the Petron Blaze banner, and eight since Austria manned the sidelines.
The Beermen, the league’s winningest team, have yet to win the Grand Slam they have all been dreaming of. Still, there is no denying that they are one of the best squads this decade.
San Mig Coffee Mixers
By: Justine Bacnis
Whenever San Mig Coffee gets mentioned in a conversation, one thing quickly comes into mind: Grand Slam.
With Tim Cone manning the sidelines, the Mixers accomplished the rare feat in the 2013-2014 season when they won all three conferences, becoming the fourth team to secure a Triple Crown.
That started in the Philippine Cup, where they overcame early struggles en route to the title. They then carried the momentum over to the Commissioner’s Cup with James Mays as their import, before capping off the season with a conquest of the Governors’ Cup with a then-young Marqus Blakely in tow.
That team led by two-time league MVP James Yap and Marc Pingris joined Crispa, San Miguel, and Alaska as the only teams to have won a Grand Slam in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
From a wushu camp to a world-class martial arts team — that is the story of Team Lakay this decade.
Led by Mark Sangiao and Eduard Folayang, Team Lakay turned their early losses during the mid-2010s into motivation. And it led to world championships in four weight classes in ONE Championship.
Besides this, Team Lakay produced national team stalwarts. And not just in wushu as the Baguio-based stable produced three golds in kickboxing and two silvers in muay thai during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Definitely, Team Lakay was a huge factor in the martial arts revolution the country has been experiencing this decade.
Ten of ten.
Pound for pound, the Adamson Softball Team is the top collegiate squad in the country today. And who could deny them that honor?
For the entire decade, the Lady Falcons have made it to the last stage of the tournament — only losing once back in 2010.
Moreover, the program has produced numerous RP Blu Girls players, including Dimpo Benjamen, Rizza Bernardino, Lorna Adorable, Angelie Ursabia, Riezel Calumbres, Lyca Basa, and Arianne Vallestero.
And there’s no stopping the program, as it secured numerous blue-chip recruits that will lead them in the next decade.
NU Women’s Basketball
Rewriting history — that is the main mission of the NU Women’s Basketball Team.
Cellar-dwellers to start the decade, the Lady Bulldogs instead ended it as the most dominant force in collegiate sports today.
The team has yet to lose in 93 games, and is now gunning for world-history as they try to beat 111-game winning streak of the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team. And they have a good chance of doing so by 2021.
Besides the streak and championships, the Lady Bulldogs program has been the foundation of the Gilas Pilipinas Women’s program, producing the likes of Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam, Gemma Miranda, Ria Nabalan, Andrea Tongco, and Kelli Hayes.
DLSU Lady Spikers
By: Ohmer Bautista
The De La Salle University Lady Spikers are undeniably the queens of collegiate volleyball in the 2010s.
Under the tutelage of the cunning Ramil De Jesus, the green-and-white spikers have been in the UAAP women’s volleyball finals nine consecutive times this decade alone, from 2010 to 2018. It is a feat that speaks volumes of their dominance for the past 10 years.
During that stretch, they pulled off a pair of three-peats. The first one came in Season 73 to 75, where they ousted UST at the start of the decade before stamping their class over Ateneo in the opening chapters of a storied rivalry that elevated volleyball to what it is today. Meanwhile, the second hat trick panned out from Seasons 78 to 80, at the expense of the Lady Eagles and the Lady Tamaraws, respectively.
Despite a heartbreaking semifinals exit at the hands of Sisi Rondina and the Growling Tigresses in Season 81 at the close of the decade, the Lady Spikers, and the dynasty they have built, will always be remembered as one of the momentous sporting moments of the country.
Ateneo Men’s Basketball
Ateneo’s Men’s Basketball team started the decade by winning three championships at the end of their legendary five-title campaign. To close out the decade, the Blue Eagles ended it with a three-peat, capped by a sweep of the deepest pool of talent the UAAP has ever seen.
Besides their exploits in the UAAP, the Blue Eagles were also the first collegiate team in the country’s history to compete in the 2017 William Jones Cup. Though placing in fourth place, the young squad went toe-to-toe with national teams — including an epic win over Chinese-Taipei’s Team A squad.
And the players produced by the program are a who’s who in basketball today, such as Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, Kiefer Ravena, JP Erram, Von Pessumal, Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Chris Newsome, and the Nieto Twins.
In the FIBA Asia Championship held in Manila, the Nationals earned an 86-79 win over longtime tormentors Korea in the semifinal, assuring themselves of a podium finish in the meet.
Gilas eventually finished with silver, and that felt like gold since it also assured Gilas of a trip to the FIBA World Cup the next year — the country’s first trip to the prestigious global cagefest since 1978.
But the program also had its dark moments. On July 3, 2018, Gilas figured in an ugly brawl with Australia during the third window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena.
Players and coaches, including Chot Reyes, were suspended by FIBA from that fracas, prompting Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to undergo a rebuild to address the situation.
With Yeng Guiao as coach and a different team composition from the one in the first three windows, things turned rocky for the new Gilas both in the 2018 Asian Games and in the Qualifiers.
Gilas were even in danger of missing the 2019 World Cup at one point. Fortunately, though, it managed to enter the basketball showpiece in China with a sweep of the fifth window.
The country’s second World Cup stint ended badly, however. It lost all of its five games, finishing dead last. And shortly after that campaign, Guiao resigned from his post.
That has left the SBP searching for someone to steer the ship for the long haul. For the 30th Southeast Asian Games, it hired Tim Cone as Gilas’ head coach, but as a stop-gap measure only.
Cone and the all-PBA squad swept the tilt to give the country its 18th gold in the men’s cafe event of the biennial meet, and cap off what had been a roller-coaster ride for the Gilas program.
The past 10 years have seen a resurgence in Philippine football, and with it, teams that have gone the extra mile in terms of growing the game in the country.
This includes squads such as Ceres-Negros, which has combined domestic dominance with regional glory in the AFC Cup; the Philippine Under-14 National Women’s Football Team that won silver in the 2014 AFC U-14 Girls ASEAN Regional Championship; and the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, which qualified for the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Before all of these teams had their turn in the limelight, however, the Philippine National Men’s Football Team — popularly known as the Azkals — gave them the platform to shine because of its legendary campaign in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Under the stewardship of team manager Dan Palami, the direction of international coaches such as Simon McMenemy, Michael Weiss, Thomas Dooley and Sven-Goran Eriksson; and star players like Phil Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, Neil Etheridge and Stephan Schrock, the image of the Philippines as the whipping boys of Asia was erased with impressive campaigns in the AFF Suzuki Cup and AFC Challenge Cup.
The highest point of the Azkals this decade obviously came in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the UAE. There, the team put up respectable showings against higher ranked teams in South Korea, China and Kyrgyzstan.
A major trophy has eluded the squad in the past decade, though, and that is something they aim to fix in the next one.
SEA Games 2019
To make the biggest Southeast Asian Games the world has ever seen successful, several personalities had to set aside their egos. And this includes the athletes that composed Team Pilipinas.
Athletes from different camps, teams, and affiliations all came together to create beautiful symphony for 12 days. Stars like Efren Reyes, Hidilyn Diaz, Caloy Yulo, Gilas Pilipinas, Stephan Schrock, Nesthy Petacio, EJ Obiena, Eric Cray, among others all came out to shine.
The result was nothing but golden.
All in all, the Philippines won 387 medals — 149 of which were gold — giving the host its first overall championship in the biennial meet since 2005.
Definitely, they won as one.