Pop Cola Panthers

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Pop Cola Panthers
Pop Cola Panthers logo
Joined PBA 1990
History Pop Cola Sizzlers
1990
Sarsi Sizzlers
1990
Diet Sarsi Sizzlers
1991
Swift Mighty Meaty Hotdogs
1991-1994
Sunkist Orange Juicers
1995-1996, 2000
Sunkist Orange Bottlers
1996
Pop Cola Bottlers
1997
Pop Cola Fizzlers
1997
Pop Cola 800s
1998-2000
Pop Cola Panthers
2000-2001
Swift Panthers
2001
Team colors Swift, Diet Sarsi and Pop Cola
Blue, white and red
              
Sunkist
Orange, blue and white
              
Owner(s) Jose Ma. "Joey" A. Concepcion III
Board governor Elmer Yanga
Company RFM Corporation
Head coaches Yeng Guiao, Derrick Pumaren, Turo Valenzona, Norman Black, Chot Reyes
Championships 4 (1992 Third Conference, 1993 Commissioner's, 1995 All-Filipino, 1995 Commissioner's)
Disbanded 2002
Uniforms
Kit body.png
Light uniform jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours
Light uniform
Kit body.png
Dark uniform jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours
Dark uniform

The Pop Cola Panthers were an professional basketball team that played in the Philippine Basketball Association from 1990-2001. The franchise was owned by RFM Corporation. In 2001, when RFM Corporation sold its entire stake in Cosmos Bottling Corporation to Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI), the PBA franchise was included in the transaction. Upon ownership by CCBPI, the PBA franchise renamed the Coca-Cola Tigers beginning the 2002 PBA season and was considered as an expansion team.

The franchise also played under the names Pop Cola/Diet Sarsi Sizzlers, Swift Mighty Meaties, Sunkist Orange Juicers/Bottlers and Pop Cola 800.

History[edit]

Pop Cola was one of two expansion franchises to enter the league in the 1990 season, joining softdrink rival Pepsi-Cola, increasing the number of member teams in the pro league to eight.

In their 12 year stint in the PBA, they were known as the Pop Cola Sizzlers, Sarsi, Swift Mighty Meaty, Sunkist Orange Juicers, Sunkist Orange Bottlers and Pop Cola 800s. The team has used the Pop Cola name from 1997 until their final season in the PBA in 2001, although the team was known as Sunkist in the 2000 Commissioners Cup and was known as the Swift Panthers for the first few games of the 2001 Governors Cup. Their first finals appearance came in 1991 All-Filipino, as Diet Sarsi, lost to corporate rival Purefoods TJ Hotdogs, 3 games to 2 in a Best of Five finals series. The team's first PBA title came in 1992, when Swift defeated 7-Up four games-to-none to win the PBA Third Conference under head coach Yeng Guiao.

The franchise also fielded one of the dominant imports in PBA history in Tony Harris, who scored a PBA record 105 points for Swift when they defeated Ginebra 151-147 in a game held in Iloilo City on October 10, 1992.

In 1993, Swift traded Jack Tanuan, Ricric Marata and Andy De Guzman for Sta. Lucia in exchange for their former players in their PABL days, Vergel Meneses and Zaldy Realubit, and this gave Swift its second championship in the newly called Commissioners Cup, gaining revenge over their business rival, Purefoods Oodles, 4 games to 2, the Hotdogs were powered by best import Ronnie Thompkins. the team was title-less the following season in which head coach Yeng Guiao decided to moved over to Pepsi Mega, and Derek Pumaren taking over the coaching chores, Swift made it to the finals in the season-ending Governor's Cup, losing to Alaska in six games.

The 1995 season became a banner year for the team. Under the name Sunkist Orange Juicers, the team almost achieved a rare back-to-back winning the All-Filipino and Commissioner's Cup titles before finishing third overall in the season-ending Governor's Cup. The team was bannered by season MVP Vergel Meneses, Bonel Balingit, Boybits Victoria, Kenneth Duremdes and Rudy Distrito (who was banned in 1995 for his infamous hard foul on Alaska rookie Jeffrey Cariaso during the All-Filipino finals series).

Sunkist/Pop Cola suffered hard times in the 1996 and 1997 seasons before their fortunes changed in 1998 when the team won a few third place finishes under head coach Norman Black, who even played one game during the Commissioner's Cup to lead the 800s to a third-place finish in the said tournament.

Pop Cola suffered two more losing seasons in 1999 and 2000 seasons but had a decent run in their final PBA season in 2001 under head coach Chot Reyes, copping third place honors in the All-Filipino Conference.

The franchise ended when RFM Corporation sold its PBA franchise to Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI), in connection to its sale of Cosmos Bottling Corporation to CCBPI in 2001.

Season-by-season records[edit]

Legend
      Champion
      Runner-up
      Semifinalist
Season Conference Team name Overall record Finals
W L  %
1990 First Conference Pop Cola Sizzlers 10 28 .263
All-Filipino Conference
Third Conference
1991 First Conference Diet Sarsi Sizzlers 31 27 .534
All-Filipino Conference Purefoods 3, Sarsi 2
Third Conference
1992 First Conference Swift Mighty Meaties 29 28 .509
All-Filipino Conference
Third Conference Swift 4, 7-Up 0
1993 All-Filipino Cup 46 25 .648
Commissioner's Cup Swift 4, Purefoods 2
Governors Cup San Miguel 4, Swift 1
1994 All-Filipino Cup 40 33 .548
Commissioner's Cup
Governors Cup Alaska 4, Swift 2
1995 All-Filipino Cup Sunkist Orange Juicers 49 23 .681 Sunkist 4, Alaska 3
Commissioner's Cup Sunkist 4, Alaska 2
Governors Cup
1996 All-Filipino Cup 16 22 .421
Commissioner's Cup Sunkist Orange Bottlers
Governors Cup
1997 All-Filipino Cup Pop Cola Bottlers 14 24 .368
Commissioner's Cup
Governors Cup
1998 All-Filipino Cup Pop Cola 800s 27 27 .500
Commissioner's Cup
Centennial Cup
Governors Cup
1999 All-Filipino Cup 8 25 .242
Commissioner's Cup
Governors Cup
2000 All-Filipino Cup 6 9 .400
Commissioner's Cup Sunkist Panthers 4 6 .400
Governors Cup Pop Cola Panthers 2 7 .222
2001 All-Filipino Cup 11 10 .524
Commissioner's Cup 3 7 .300
Governors Cup Swift Hotdogs 10 10 .500
Overall record 306 311 .496 4 championships

Players of note[edit]

PBA's 25 greatest players[edit]

Other notable players[edit]

  • Nelson Asaytono #11 - "The Bull" / "The Dynamo"
  • Bonel Balingit #12 - drafted in 1992 he was the tallest player in the PBA standing at 6'9". This was later eclipsed in 1995 by 7'0" E.J. Feihl.
  • Nic Belasco
  • Dickie Bognot #24
  • Sonny Cabatu #5
  • Aldrin Cruz
  • Ricky Cui #6
  • Andy De Guzman #13 & 26
  • Rudy Distrito #17 - "The Destroyer"
  • Rudy Hatfield - "H-Bomb"
  • Nap Hatton #18
  • Pido Jarencio #25 - "The Fireman"
  • Poch Juinio
  • Joey Loyzaga #14
  • Ricric Marata #23
  • Romulo Marata
  • Mar Morelos
  • Cadel Mosqueda #48
  • Jasper Ocampo-98-99"back to back 3pt champ"
  • Jon Ordonio
  • Jake Pelaez #12
  • Ali Peek
  • Eugene Quilban
  • Zaldy Realubit #35
  • Elmer Reyes #4
  • Eric Reyes #10
  • Marte Saldaña #7 - "The Mighty Mite"
  • Terry Saldaña #17 - "Plastic Man"
  • Al Solis #8
  • Jun Tan #16
  • Jack Tanuan † #41 - "The Ripper"
  • Boybits Victoria - 1994 PBA Rookie of the Year
  • Yoyoy Villamin #13 - "The Bicolano Superman"
  • Vic Villarias #18

Imports[edit]

  • ANDERSON, Michael
  • ELLIS, Rosell (USA)
  • GRANDISON, Ronnie
  • HARRIS, Tony
  • HOUSTON, Byron
  • HUGHES, Alfredrick
  • FOWLKES, Tremaine
  • LIBERTY, Marcus
  • LLOYD, Lewis - member of the 1986 Houston Rockets team (lost to eventual 1986 NBA Champs Boston Celtics)
  • REYES, Antonio - (2000 draft pick from Australia)
  • SANDERS, Mike
  • SASSER, Jason
  • SMITH, Steven
  • TOMPKINS, Ronnie
  • WATSON, Jamie
Preceded by
(start)
PBA teams genealogies
1990-2001
Succeeded by
Coca-Cola Tigers