Do the current San Miguel Beermen have the greatest starting five in PBA history?

Is San Miguel's lineup the best in PBA history? (0:47)

Christian Standhardinger is set to add even more firepower to the San Miguel Beermen's dominant lineup. (0:47)

We're not even talking about the impending arrival of Fil-German sensation Christian Standhardinger -- who is presently making a strong case for Heritage MVP in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).

Consider this lineup: Standhardinger, June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and either one of the two guards -- Chris Ross or Alex Cabagnot -- starting in next season's PBA Philippine Cup.

In a few weeks, Standhardinger, listed at 6-foot-8, will finally suit up for the Beermen in the Commissioner's Cup. He will be joined in the new San Miguel frontcourt by Troy Gillenwater, a 6-8 wingman who shot almost 40 percent from beyond the arc in his collegiate career in New Mexico State. If this duo joins forces with Fajardo (6-10) and San Miguel's zone defense could set all sorts of league defensive records.

But Standhardinger is still busy helping Hong Kong Eastern defend its ABL crown and if the playoffs run its full route, we will see the Gilas naturalized player in action sometime towards the first week of May.

Even without Standhardinger, the current starting five are coming off their fourth consecutive All-Filipino championship.

The advent of rule changes to make the game faster and less physical (the allowing of the straight up zone defense, no hand checking, hard fouls penalized harshly, etc.), favors the quick and nimble line-up of the present day Beermen.

The debate has now begun in earnest. Are Fajardo, Santos, Lassiter, Cabagnot, and Ross the best starting five in league history?

While it is difficult to compare generations, some coaches sound willing to consider it.

Barangay Ginebra mentor Tim Cone, the winningest coach in league history started out on the fence.

"I don't know if I would call them 'the greatest ever', but they're definitely up there," Cone said moments before the Beermen defeated the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in Game 4 of the Finals. "I look at [Alvin] Patrimonio's Purefoods squad as one of the strongest I've ever gone up against. That San Miguel [1989 Grand Slam] team of Norman [Black] was also amazing. Even our Alaska team in 1996 was good."

The Purefoods team of the early-1990s boasted of a unit that had eventual four-time MVP Patrimonio, defensive specialist Jerry CodiƱera, shooter Elmer Cabahug, versatile forward Glenn Capacio and spitfire playmaker Olsen Racela, while the later version had Bong Ravena, Dindo Pumaren and Rey Evangelista teaming with Patrimonio and CodiƱera.

The Black-coached 1989 Grand Slam-winning Beermen had another four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez, swingman Elmer Reyes, iconic point guard Hector Calma, "The Skywalker" Samboy Lim and do-it-all forward Yves Dignadice.

Cone's 1996 Grand Slam had Lastimosa, then reigning Rookie of the Year Jeffrey Cariaso, MVP Johnny Abarrientos, bruiser Bong Hawkins and slotman Edward Juinio.

But Cone -- who has been in the league since 1989 -- when asked about potential match-up issues with the modern day Beermen, began getting off the fence.

"They actually could be [the best]," he eventually said.

When asked about the 1985 Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC) roster starring three naturalized Americans in Dennis Still, Jeff Moore and future renowned NBA shooting coach Arthur "Chip" Engelland alongside Calma and Lim:

"They don't count," Cone smiled.

But a member of that very same NCC squad in eventual PBA champion coach Jong Uichico did bring up some pertinent facts about his former team.

"June Mar wouldn't stand a chance against Still," Cone said.

Still, a burly 6-9 enforcer-type, specialized in diffusing opponents' post up options and swatted shots with consistent regularity. Needless to say, he was dominant in the paint on both ends.

Uichico, whose only PBA stint as a player was on that championship quintet under the late Ron Jacobs had a slightly different opinion.

"If you match up Arwind against Moore that would also be a mismatch," Uichico said. "And Marcio won't be able to outshoot Engelland. If Chris Ross went up against a prime Samboy (Lim), he'd end up watching him score while I don't think there's a comparison between Hector and Alex, except that Cabagnot has better range."

Moore was touted to be 6-7 and had incredible agility and quickness, while Engelland listed at 6-5 and had a quick release with sick accuracy from beyond the arc.

But when he learned that Cone disqualified NCC from the discussion, Uichico laughed and said, "Well, he has a point."

Senior broadcast analyst "Dr. J" Andy Jao pointed in the direction of another Grand Slam team in Baby Dalupan's 1976 Crispa Redmanizers.

"Bogs [Adornado] was incredible," Jao recalled. "If he didn't get injured, he should have won more than just three MVP awards. Philip Cezar would not allow Arwind to do his thing while Atoy Co will shoot it out with Cabagnot."

However, Dr. J did acknowledge that Fajardo and Ross could have the edge over Abet Guidaben and Bernie Fabiosa, respectively.

"June Mar is different," he said. "And Ross will stop Fabiosa from distributing because of his defense."

In fact, everyone polled all point to Fajardo as the big difference in the equation.

"June Mar is a freak of nature," Uichico said. "He's that player that arrives in the league only once in a lifetime and he will continue making a difference. Besides [Dennis] Still, the only two people I see being able to come close to matching-up with him are DaVonn Harp and a determined Marlou Aquino, but he has to be very determined."

So with Fajardo alone, the present day Beermen have the advantage in this conversation. Santos, the MVP before Fajardo began his streak of wins, is still among the toughest front-liners in the PBA while Lassiter is now being mentioned in the same breath as iconic marksmen such as Engelland, Jimmy Alapag and even "The Triggerman" Allan Caidic. The Cabagnot-Ross combo play so well together that they now draw comparisons to even the Jaworski-Arnaiz tandem.

If the San Miguel Beermen aren't yet the greatest starting five in PBA history, they soon may leave no doubt.