Forgotten Finals: Ginebra’s 2005 all-Filipino title, and a citizenship controversy

Paul Kennedy Lintag, ABS-CBN Sports

Posted at Apr 10 2020 08:02 PM

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA today, only half of them have won a championship.

While all title wins are special, they’re definitely not created equal. Some just stand out more than others.

In this short series, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look back at the Forgotten Finals won by the six active PBA teams with rings.

Barangay Ginebra is up next. This one is a classic for the Gin Kings.

 2004-2005 Philippine Cup (4-2 win vs. Talk N Text)

Let’s just get this out of the way quickly, based on the actual results, this series should have gone a full seven games.

But for reasons that got buried in the annals of history, the Gin Kings took this series and the title officially after just six outings.

Talk N Text entered as the defending All-Filipino champions, after taking a 6-game win over Coca-Cola in the 2003 Finals. No team has repeated as all-Filipino winners since Great Taste in 1985.

For Game 1, the Phone Pals won, taking an 18-point decision for a quick 1-0 lead.

Asi Taulava played 36 minutes, scoring six points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. But since Taulava suited up for Talk N Text, the Phone Pals’ win was taken away and was awarded to the Gin Kings.

At the time, the league was dealing with the so-called “Fil-Sham” issue and Taulava was still suspended by the league in relation to the controversy.

However, according to separate reports by June Navarro of the Philippine Daily Inquirer then, four days before the fFinals was to open, Judge Rogelio Pizzaro of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 222 issued an order that basically pretty much told the PBA to allow Taulava to play.

Still, then-commissioner Noli Eala sustained Taulava’s suspension.

It was truly a complicated matter at the time with both teams and the league going back-and-forth on the issue. In the end, the Phone Pals relented and did not field Taulava in Game 2, which Ginebra won via a late go-ahead bucket by MVP Eric Menk to seize a 2-0 lead.

Behind the backcourt of Willie Miller and Jimmy Alapag, Talk N Text demolished Ginebra by 36 points in Game 3 for the team’s first official win in the finals. The Phone Pals then withstood Mark Caguioa’s 43 points to tie the series in Game 4.

The Gin Kings regained control with a double-overtime win in Game 5 and, with Menk dominating for 39 points and 19 rebounds, Ginebra officially captured the title with a victory in Game 6.

For all the trouble, Taulava was cleared of the Fil-Sham issue, passing citizenship and went on to play in the league for a long time, with multiple national team stints in between.

Behind an MVP in Eric Menk and a rising star in Mark Caguioa, this was a well-deserved title win for a very strong Ginebra team. With an upgraded core, the Gin Kings would win the Philippine Cup again in 2007 with little to no complications, and Rudy Hatfield's post-game celebration made it extra memorable.

However, the off-court issues that marred the 2005 series makes this a Forgotten Finals for the Barangay, or at the very least, a series remembered not for the right reasons.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).