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Tanduay makes pro basketball return, joins new FilBasket season

Tanduay last became involved in club basketball play when it bankrolled the Batangas City Athletics in the MPBL. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—One of the PBA's pioneering teams is making a comeback to the professional basketball scene.

FilBasket announced on Friday that Tanduay Athletics is joining the league's second season, its first as a professional league, beginning on March 15.

Other confirmed teams for FilBasket this season include the San Juan Knights, the Nueva Ecija AgriHeroes, and the Kuala Lumpur Aseel.

Speculations arose on Tanduay's participation when sports vlog Hoopjunkie hinted that a former PBA champion squad is joining FilBasket.

Many fans even thought Alaska Milk, which recently announced that it will be leaving the PBA after this season, will be making the jump to FilBasket, but Alaska governor Dickie Bachmann denied that the Aces are FilBasket-bound.

Just like Alaska, Tanduay also won it all in the PBA, winning three championships in its first incarnation as part of the Elizalde and Co. umbrella.

The Rhum Masters even came close to achieving the 1986 Grand Slam after winning the Reinforced Conference and the Philippine Cup titles, but they struggled in the Open Conference semifinals and only settled for fourth place in the season-ending conference.

Despite winning a title in 1987, the Elizalde Family sold its franchise to Purefoods, then owned by the Ayalas, the following year and later the entire Tanduay Distillers to Asia Brewery of Lucio Tan.

Tan's son Bong would bring Tanduay back to the PBA right in its 25th season in 1999 as an expansion team.

Although Asia Brewery once played in the PBA as Beer Hausen and Manila Beer after Tan bought Toyota's franchise in 1984, it was the Elizalde Era Tanduay history that was absorbed to the new Tanduay team led by Eric Menk, who was among the players elevated from its PBL squad.

Tanduay's second stay did not last long as after just three seasons without a championship, the franchise was sold to Air21.

Tanduay's presence in club basketball play resurfaced when it joined the PBA D-League from 2011-2017.

Tanduay was the main sponsor of Batangas City's team to the MPBL when the squad helped found the league in 2018.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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