As the decade draws to a close, the ESPN5.com editorial staff look back at the sporting figures and moments that stood out and helped define Philippine sports in the 2010s. Check back regularly until December 31 for the latest features in our ESPN5.com Best of the Decade series.
Excellence in team competitions is often difficult to sustain. Players and coaches come and go, rival clubs are always improving, and the old adage about repeating being more difficult than winning once generally rings true. But ten Philippine teams bucked those odds in the 2010s and emerged as the gold standard in their respective leagues.
Adamson Lady Falcons softball team
From February 2010 to March 2016, the Adamson Lady Falcons' softball squad went on an unblemished run that shattered the all-time record in Philippine sports history en route to six UAAP championships in what is perhaps the most dominant sports program in the archipelago. The loss to rival University of Santo Tomas (UST) on March 2, 2016-ironically the same school that last defeated coach Ana Santiago's wards in 2010 - ended the run.
In that span, Adamson amassed a 73-game winning streak which more than eclipsed the previous mark held by the University of Perpetual Help men's volleyball team at 48 consecutive triumphs from 2010-2014.
Under Santiago, the Lady Falcons actually copped thirteen UAAP titles including nine in a row from 2010 to today. Santiago was feted by the Adamson community and had her #6 jersey retired during a simple ceremony held last August. - Noel Zarate
Ateneo Blue Eagles men's basketball team
The Ateneo Blue Eagles put their imprint in UAAP men's basketball in the 2010's with two separate three-peats.
Ateneo's titles from Seasons 73 to 75 completed its five-peat run which started in 2008. As the Blue Eagles' dominance came to a close in 2012, the league saw three different champions for the next four seasons, highlighted by National University's title that ended the school's long championship drought.
The Blue Eagles were back on top in 2017 when they toppled the Ben Mbala-led DLSU Green Archers. Ateneo has won three straight titles under head coach Tab Baldwin, capped off by a perfect 16-0 Season 82 sweep. - Yoyo Sarmenta
Ceres Negros FC
There is no question that Ceres-Negros FC has emerged as the king of Philippine club football in the past decade.
After claiming the 2013 PFF Men's Club Championship a year after its formation, they set their eyes on the country's de-facto top club competition, the United Football League (UFL). After winning a championship in their debut season in 2015, Ceres' only real hiccup was a runners-up finish in the 2016 in the league.
Since then Ceres has held a monopoly on the country's top prize, even after the transition from the UFL to the Philippines Football League. Their dominance in the decade was capped off by an undefeated 2019 season in the league to complete a three-peat.
Ceres is also typically the face of the Philippines in international club competitions, going toe-to-toe with the best clubs in the region. With Philippine team captain Stephan Schrock and a host of other current and former Azkals leading the way, Ceres' success looks set to continue well into the next decade. - Paolo Del Rosario
DLSU Lady Spikers
After starting a dynasty in the 2000s, De La Salle University continued to reap the rewards of its successful volleyball program in the last ten years. With the brilliant Ramil de Jesus still calling the shots, the Lady Spikers captured their 11th title in 2018, their sixth of the decade.
They started off the 2010s on the wrong foot, losing the crown to University of Santo Tomas. They immediately reclaimed the trophy in Season 73, which turned out to be the first of a three-peat reign. Their dominant run was cut short when Ateneo de Manila University, powered by Alyssa Valdez, reigned supreme from 2014 to 2015. They eventually found their way back to the throne, achieving another three-peat milestone from Seasons 78 to 81. Their impressive 10-year finals streak came to an end when they bowed down to Sisi Rondina and the Golden Tigresses in the semis last season.
Different generations of La Salle stars stood out during the decade, all mentored by De Jesus. The winning tradition continued in Taft, thanks to former Most Valuable Players Jacq Alarca, Aby Maraño, and Ara Galang; all-around player Cha Cruz; spikers Wensh Tiu, Kianna Dy, and Des Cheng; middle blockers Michele Gumabao, Mika Reyes, and Majoy Baron; liberos Melissa Gohing and Dawn Macandili; and three-time Best Setter Kim Fajardo. - Charmie Lising
FEU juniors football team
The FEU Baby Tamaraws may be more known for their vaunted juniors program in basketball, in the grassroots category their football squad has been the dominant team.
Much more decorated than their hoop counterparts in the past decade, the FEU Baby Tams have been the kings of the UAAP juniors football for most of the decade.
FEU-Diliman won its ninth consecutive championship at the expense of the NU Bullpups last February, led by coach Bobae Park, MVP Mark Jessar Tobias, Rookie of the Year Kart Talaroc, Best Striker Pocholo Bugas, Best Midfielder Keith Absalon, and Best Goalkeeper Kristian Bumatay. - Philip Matel
Philippine basketball was in for a roller-coaster ride in this decade with some of the best moments in history mixed in with a couple of moments that Filipino basketball fans would rather forget. Still, it could be considered a big step forward for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as Gilas Pilipinas was able to return to the world stage and proved they could stay there.
From a semifinals stint in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, Gilas proved their ability to be one of the top teams in the Asian region by defeating South Korea in the semifinals to finish with the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, which booked the team a ticket in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. The Philippines ended a four-decade absence in the tournament where they picked up a win against Senegal.
Although the bid for a spot the in the 2016 Rio Olympics fell short after another silver finish in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, Gilas was able to return to the world stage once again although the team failed to get a win in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The decade was capped with Gilas re-establishing its dominance in the Southeast Asian region but with the continuing rise in talent and the commitment of the PBA to the national team, Philippine basketball should have exciting times ahead. - Carlo Pamintuan
NU Lady Bulldogs women's basketball team
National University took Philippine women's basketball to new heights in the 2010s with coach Pat Aquino at the helm. The Lady Bulldogs climbed their way from the cellar to the top, producing eventual national team players and iconic ambassadors of the sport such as Afril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, and Jack Danielle Animam over the years.
The Lady Bulldogs barged into the UAAP finals in Season 76 but succumbed to De La Salle University in the deciding match of the series on October 5, 2013, which turned out to be their last loss of the decade. They were undefeated from Seasons 77 to 82, achieving a historic 96-0 milestone en route to six straight titles.
During their five-peat quest, they surpassed the 73-game streak previously set by Adamson University in women's softball. Now they are inching closer to smashing the world record of 111 consecutive wins that the UConn Huskies women's basketball team built in the NCAA from 2014 to 2017. - Charmie Lising
Perpetual Help men's volleyball team
Iconic coach Sammy Acaylar had been entrenched in several programs including the De La Salle University (DLSU) men's volleyball squad, the Perpetual Biñan developmental program and trying to revive the national team program in 2010 when his Altas embarked on what eventually would be the longest winning streak in Philippine sports. By the time the smoke cleared on December 4, 2014, the Perps had put together 53 straight victories and collected four straight NCAA men's volleyball crowns.
Among those who were part of that amazing run were eventual national team players Bonj Castel, Ralph Diezmo and Warren Catipay along with Edmar Sanchez, Randean Abcede, Neil Ytorzaita, Rey Taneo, Ralph Savalleno, Jay de la Cruz, Allan Sala-an, Manuel Dollente and eventual national team libero Jack Kalingking.
Under Acaylar, Perpetual won seven NCAA titles including another back-to-back feat in the last two seasons. - Noel Zarate
San Beda Red Lions men's basketball team
San Beda University has been the benchmark of excellence in NCAA seniors basketball for the last decade having won eight of the last 10 titles.
The Red Lions started the 2010's with a five-peat headlined by the likes of Baser Amer and Art de la Cruz. Just when they were on their way to a sixth straight championship, their streak was ended by their rival Letran Knights in 2015. A new era for the Red Lions began in 2016 with Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon at the forefront. They added three more titles for San Beda, putting the school's total to 22 NCAA championships overall. - Yoyo Sarmenta
San Miguel Beermen
Dominant. A juggernaut. The team to beat. Star-studded. Relentless. Unstoppable. Simply put, the San Miguel Beermen were winners and, oftentimes, champions, starting with a Governors' Cup championship in 2011 under rookie coach Ato Agustin. They survived internal squabbling, player movements, coaching changes, temperamental imports, and a three-year championship drought. They drafted center June Mar Fajardo in 2012, the starting point of what would become an unprecedented run.
With a core of Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot (who returned after a short stint elsewhere), Chris Ross, and Marcio Lassiter, with complimentary pieces placed around them and Leo Austria holding the reins, the Beermen were off and running. They grabbed five straight Philippine Cup championships (2015 to 2019) -- never before accomplished. They threw in a 2015 Governors' Cup crown and two Commissioner's Cup trophies (2017, 2019) for good measure. Sometimes, they routed their opponents, while at others, they seemed down and out but were able to recover (Beeracle, anyone?).
Despite injuries and imports who did not fit, they still established themselves as the most formidable All-Filipino squad of all-time, at least as far as consecutive championships are concerned. Individual awards were a-plenty as well. For all the team's greatness in the past decade, the Beermen probably aren't done yet. - Charlie Cuna
In an earlier version of this article, we identified Adamson coach Ana Santiago as Ana Domingo. We apologize for the error.