The Manila Beer Brewmasters took a leave of absence on January 20, 1987, a move that left several top names in the dark. Among those who were looking for new homes at the time included Elpidio “Yoyoy” Villamin, Alberto “Abet” Guidaben and Fortunato “Atoy” Co Jr.
According to Shareholdings Inc. Chairman Lucio Tan back then, the move was done due to the escalating budget needs to finance a tough-caliber team. It was well-timed considering it came when player contracts of the PBA franchise were expiring, meaning it would not entail any financial obligation on the part of the company.
However, Tan stressed that it was only a “leave of absence” and that he had hoped to return the following season with a competitive team. But as far as the 1987 PBA season is concerned, the decision to beg off was final.
With Manila Beer no longer exercising first refusal under the drafting and trading rules at the time, the PBA would be regulating the PBA commissioner’s office then led by the late commissioner Mariano Yenko Jr.
Guidaben passes on Dalupan, Crispa Reunion
Roughly weeks later, some of the top players from the disbanded Brewmasters franchise landed with new teams.
San Miguel acquired Guidaben on February 7, 1987, barely hours after the PBA board of governors led by chairman Reynaldo Marquez agreed to declare Manila Beer players except for Villamin as free agents.
It was an interesting move for two-time Most Valuable Player considering he initially agreed to a lucrative deal with Great Taste in what could have been a reunion with his former Crispa Redmanizers coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan.
The All-Star center reportedly called up Baby D on the night of February 8, 1997, apologizing to his former coach and informing him that he had signed with San Miguel together with Ricky Cui.
“The Maestro” had hoped to get Guidaben at the time and then trade Manny Victorino to Shell for Philip Cezar and draft pick Allan Caidic along with a GTC draft choice which was expected to be Harmon Codinera.
That Cezar trade was meant to reunite “Mr. Stretch” with his compadre Atoy Co as Dalupan tried to re-assemble the nucleus of the former Crispa stars.
Villamin passes on SMB for Alaska
Ironically, Villamin also pulled a surprise when he opted to join Alaska over San Miguel.
“The Bicolano Superman” practiced with San Miguel for about a week back then and allegedly came to terms with management before the February 6, 1987 board meeting. However, no contract was sealed.
Villamin showed up at the Great Taste office on February 9, 1987, and discussed terms with then-team manager Ignacio Gotao and Dalupan.
But before leaving, VIllamin had also informed his former coach that he was also going to hold talks with Alaska team manager Joel Aquino.
Later that afternoon, Aquino would announce that they had signed Villamin as well as former Manila Beer teammate Tim Coloso.
“Villamin and Coloso both see Alaska as a team that will not only provide them with all the support but also a team that can grow up with,” Aquino stated.
It was added by people who had discussed terms with Guidaben and Villamin that both players were asking for extremely high salaries with the latter allegedly asking for a minimum of P52,000.
Gotao, who had warned after the board meeting that declaring Manila Beer players as free agents would cause problems and increase cost, together with Shell team manager Ernie Inocencio were reportedly upset with these developments then.