The Universal Robina Corporation team is one of the founding members of the PBA. Formerly known as Great Taste and Presto-Tivoli Ice Cream, they have won a number of championships. Sta. Lucia Realty & Develpoment, Inc., a real estate corporation, bought the franchise in 1993.
The Coffeemakers' best years were the mid-1980s. Great Taste had Fil-American Ricardo Brown as the 1985 Most Valuable Player along with former Crispa standouts Atoy Co, Bernie Fabiosa and Philip Cezar and former Toyota rival Abe King. Amateur star Allan Caidic joined the team in 1987 to form a strong nucleus under former Redmanizer tactician, the great Baby Dalupan. From 1985 to 1987, the Coffeemakers won three PBA titles (1985 Open, All-Filipino and 1987 All-Filipino).
Before the end of the 1980s, Great Taste used the Tivoli Milk or Presto Tivoli monicker. By 1990, Presto Tivoli, under former national team member Jimmy Mariano, won the All-Filipino Conference by defeating Purefoods in seven games with Triggerman Allan Caidic winning the prestigious Most Valuable Player award.
Before the end of 1992, Presto management announced the sale of the franchise and by 1993 PBA season, Sta. Lucia Realty bought the franchise rights. Sta. Lucia was considered as a new PBA team, so therefore the past records and history of the Gokongwei franchise were not included in Sta. Lucia's history.
Prior to the start of the season, Caidic moved to San Miguel Beer, leaving the Realtors with a few holdovers from the old Presto lineup including Vergel Meneses, Bong Hawkins (later traded to Swift and Alaska, respectively) and Gerry Esplana. Other players who joined the team within the season (through trades and free agent signings) were Bong Alvarez, Ric Ric Marata, Jack Tanuan and Johnedel Cardel.
But, Sta. Lucia had the top pick in the draft and selected amateur star Zandro "Jun" Limpot of De La Salle University-Manila. With Limpot carrying the new Sta. Lucia team for the 1993 season, the Realtors managed to surprise everyone with a semi-finals appearance that led to a fourth place finish in the All-Filipino Conference. Limpot was named as the Rookie of the Year after the season.
One of Sta. Lucia's first imports was Lambert Shell, who played during the Commissioner's Cup. The team's head coach during its first few years was former PBA coach Nat Canson.
Filipino-American Chris Jackson and Jose Francisco were also acquired in the 1993 draft, veteran shooter Romy dela Rosa later joined the team to form a solid squad to complement Limpot and Espino.
Espino managed to return Sta. Lucia late in the season and the Realtors copped a third place trophy in the Governor's Cup.
Two more third place finishes were collected by Sta. Lucia during the 1995 All-Filipino and Commissioner's Cups, with Frederick Pea as import. From 1996, SLR captured another third place finish in the Commissioner's Cup with Adonis Tierra as head coach.
At this point, Sta. Lucia's best year was in 1997 when the Realtors finished third in the All-Filipino, and fourth in the Commissioner's Cup and Governor's Cup. The ironic part was that they took on San Miguel in all Battle-for-Third games under former Purefoods head coach Chot Reyes, while the Realtors selected Jason Webb as the third overall pick in the draft.
Reyes left the team in 1998, replacing him with Derrick Pumaren, Limpot's former coach at La Salle and Magnolia in the PABL. Esplana and Jackson were later traded to Formula Shell for Ronnie Magsanoc. It was at this time that Magsanoc hit his 1,000 career third-pointer. The Realtors entered the semis of the All-Filipino Cup, but were defeated by San Miguel in a do-or-die match for the last Finals berth.
SLR struggled in the Commissioner's Cup with Ronnie Coleman, brother of then-Philadelphia 76ers forward Derrick Coleman, missing the quarterfinals. Espino and Limpot were later loaned to the Philippine Centennial Team and the Realtors continued to struggle in the Governor's Cup.
In 1999, Limpot and Espino returned for Sta. Lucia but lost Romy dela Rosa to the Metropolitan Basketball Association. But, the Realtors added former MBA star and 1992 PBA MVP Ato Agustin with Tierra returning as the head coach. Still, the Realtors placed dead last in the All-Filipino.
Fil-American Robert Parker and Parker's college teammate Kwan Johnson joined the team in the 1999 Commissioner's Cup. The addition of both Parker and Johnson revived the franchise and eventually led to a fourth-place finish in the tournament. However, it was proven that Parker was a fake Filipino-American and left the Philippines afterwards, leaving Johnson as Sta. Lucia's import for the Governor's Cup. Sta. Lucia owner Exy Robles and the Realtors management were charged by the government for hiring Parker. The charges were later dropped.
The departure of Parker left the Realtors to a struggling performance in the season-ending Governor's Cup. Johnson was eventually replaced by Joe Temple during the course of the tournament.
In the Commissioner's Cup, Ansu Sesay was Sta. Lucia's import and the Realtors surprised everyone in this tournament. After placing second in the eliminations, they made it to the championship series for the first time in franchise history, only to lose to the talented San Miguel Beermen in five games. Sesay was named as Best Import of the said tournament.
With Joe Temple as import for the Governor's Cup, the Realtors did not make it past the quarterfinals. The same results can be said of the 2001 All-Filipino and Commissioner's Cup.
However, in the Governor's Cup, Damian Owens was Sta. Lucia's import and the Realtors dominated the tournament to secured their second finals appearance against the heavily-favored San Miguel team.
After both team's split their series in Game Four, the Realtors won both Games 5 and 6. Game Six was the most dramatic as the game was tightly contested. After San Miguel import Lamont Strothers tied the game at 72 with an off-balanced runner, Chris Tan hit a 24-foot three-pointer with three seconds remaining to give Sta. Lucia the lead for good to win their first-ever PBA championship with a 75-72 Game 6 win and a 4-2 series victory.
Owens was the Best Import of the Conference while Gerard Francisco was the Finals Most Valuable Player.
Chua has the knack for being in the right place at the right time, thus, covering up for his obvious lack of coaching talent. Even with the vast array of talent present in his squad he has yet to produce a championship during his tenure as coach.
During the 2003 PBA Draft, Sta. Lucia shocked everyone by trading their fifth overall pick to Alaska for 1998 MVP and the Aces' star player Kenneth Duremdes. With Duremdes joining Aquino and Espino, the Realtors became one of the favorites to win any of the three conferences for the 29th season.
However, Sta. Lucia placed fourth in the All-Filipino, did not qualify for the special PBA Invitational tournament and secured another fourth place finish in the Reinforced Conference. Espino and Aquino, however, made it to the Mythical Team during the annual awards night.
In the 2004 PBA Fiesta Conference, with former Purefoods import Derrick Brown as reinforcement, the Realtors blew a double-digit lead to lose to eventual champion Barangay Ginebra Kings in the wildcard knockout phase of the tournament. This caught the ire of Chua, who even brought the whole team to the Commissioner's Office to protest the way officiating was handled.
The Realtors were again eliminated in the wildcard phase of the 2004-05 Philippine Cup after they were swept by San Miguel. In the 2005 Fiesta Conference, Sta. Lucia blew a twice-to-beat advantage in the wildcard phase and was eliminated by the soon departing Shell Turbo Chargers. Former Cincinnati Bearcat Ryan Fletcher was the Sta. Lucia import.
The Realtors finished with a 4-12 record in the classification phase of the Philippine Cup. However, the Realtors played in the wildcard playoff phase, which gave Sta. Lucia a chance to earn the final quarterfinals berth in the tournament. However, the Realtors won only one game during the wildcard phase to bow out of the tournament with a 1-2 record, defeating Talk N' Text in their final game of the season.
During the 2006 PBA Draft, the Realtors selected Filipino-American Kelly Williams as its first overall pick in the draft. They also nabbed Mark Isip (6th overall) and Mark Magsumbol (13th overall) in the said draft.
In the Philippine Cup, Sta Lucia was able to pull off a surprising start in the conference, due to great performances by their younger player such Williams, Cabagnot and veterans Marlou Aquino, Dennis Espino and Kenneth Duremdes. However, a late slump followed a one-game playoff loss to Purefoods relegated the Realtors in the wildcard phase. Despite a 1-2 win-loss record, Sta Lucia was able to gain a berth in a knockout game due to their superior record in both the classification and wildcard phase. The Realtors defeated the Air21 Express 121-118 to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2003 Reinforced Conference. However, Sta Lucia lost 3-1 to Red Bull in the five-game series despite a Game 1 victory.
The Realtors paraded Rock Winston as import for the 2006-2007 Fiesta Conference. Recently, Sta. Lucia dealt Kenneth Duremdes, Alex Cabagnot and Ricky Calimag to Coca-Cola for Denok Miranda, Manny Ramos and a 2008 second round draft pick. Later on to the tournament, they replaced Winston for Jamaal Williams. They went 2-6 with Williams and got booted out in the wild card phase of the tournament by San Miguel Beermen.
The Realtors underwent a major overhaul in their roster. Coach Boyet Fernandez retained only 6 players from the previous roster and went on to tap undiscovered talent on the rookie free agent pool. Fernandez decided to get deserving players who have not got the chance to play in the PBA. The realtors got Ryan Reyes, a standout PG from the PBL and Melvin Mamaclay, standout player from NBC thru the draft. Sta. Lucia also obtained the services of Dennis Daa, Christian Coronel and Phillip Butel from the rookie free agent pool. The team also obtained the services of former Green Archer Joseph Yeo to complement the fast game of Reyes and Williams and to add the slashing presence that the team had lacked in previous years. Now, Sta. Lucia makes everybody pay. All players provide spark and inspiration to their game. Adapting to the new rules that fits the physicality of the Sta. Lucia game, the team is making progress. They are able to blow out other teams, and to win closely contested games against very talented and 12- man deep teams like Magnolia and Talk n'Text, although there has been a great improvement in the team's character and roster, Sta. Lucia still lacks the offensive patterns that will make it a very deadly team. The Sta. Lucia game is still rather inconsistent. They'll be able to blow out other teams then they will just get blown the next game. Inconsistency and offensive patterns are the problems the team has for now, but the season is still early and fans and optimists believe that this is the year of the Realtors.
However, Aquino is a PBA player said to be bombarded by criticisms by fans. Some question his work-ethic for showing up lackluster or lazy performances since the arrival of these Filipino-Americans while being paid a maximum salary of 500,000 pesos a month.
Another conflict here is in the case of Alex Cabagnot. Cabagnot is considered by many as a Filipino-American after spending his high school and collegiate studies in the United States. However, the PBA listed him as a local player, since he was born in the Philippines to Filipino parents.
But, after the Realtors drafted Filipino-American Kelly Williams, it looks as though the team is beginning to open on acquiring mixed Filipino cagers on its roster.
|PG||Dennis Miranda||Paolo Mendoza||Christian Coronel|
|SG||Ryan Reyes||Joseph Yeo||Norman Gonzales|
|SF||Nelbert Omolon||Kelvin Gregorio|
|PF||Kelly Williams||Dennis Daa||Melvin Mamaclay|
|C||Dennis Espino||Marlou Aquino||Philip Butel|