The last four on my list are all Ginebra victories. As I concluded my top 10, both teams had five wins each. I’ve chosen five in the eliminations, three from the title series and two from the semifinals.
7.) May 10, 1987 (Ginebra 127 Tanduay 124) – A month after their first meeting won by Tanduay in two overtimes. Their second round confrontation in the 1987 Open Conference was the only one in my list that was played in the first game of a double-header. It was a hot, Sunday afternoon and the ULTRA venue was jampacked as early as 5pm. The memorable highlight of this game was the shouting match or the war of words between Ginebra playing coach Sonny Jaworski and Tanduay coach Arturo Valenzona. The game itself had Tanduay led by 15 points at halftime, 67-52, but Ginebra came roaring back in the third quarter and tied the count at 97-all, going into the last period. With the score at 102-all, seven more deadlocks and three lead changes marked the fourth quarter. Dondon Ampalayo’s basket inside the keyhole with 31 seconds left shattered the game’s last deadlock and give Ginebra a 126-124 lead. The Rhum Makers bungled two opportunities to equalized on the return play as both Willie Generalao and Freddie Hubalde missed their attempts from short range. Hackett pulled down the defensive rebound and in a process, drew Thirdkill’s sixth and last foul with only a few seconds left in the game.
In his weekly column on Sports Flash, the Big J in the last part of the write-up, talks on his shouting match with Tanduay coach Turo Valenzona.
8.) August 26, 1986 (Ginebra 90 Tanduay 86, Game one of AFC finals) – The two semifinal matches of Ginebra and Tanduay in the 1986 All-Filipino conference resulted to a four-point victory each for both teams. Ginebra beat Tanduay, 94-90 on August 12, where the Rhum Makers nearly stage a walkout in the final minute when the coaching staff didn’t like the referees’ call. Tanduay got back at Ginebra with a 96-92 win a week later on August 19, it was the Gins’ first attempt to secure a finals seat but was stop by the Rhum Makers in a whirlwind finish. The following week on August 26th, the two teams will now battle for Game one of the championship series which resulted to another four-point winning margin. The hype on the “grudge” between the Big J and El Presidente was a disappointment in the first game as Fernandez sat out for most of the game because of fouls. Fernandez scored the final point for Tanduay on split free throws which tied the count for the last time at 86-all before Terry Saldana and Francis Arnaiz provided the winning baskets for Ginebra.
9.) November 2, 1986 (Ginebra 126 Tanduay 118) – As of this writing, there are no source yet that I could find, but based on my recollections on the All souls day match, it was an uphill climb for Ginebra on their way to victory, their first against Tanduay since losing to the Rhum Makers in the All-Filipino championship. The only certain here is that it’s a Billy Ray Bates-Rob Williams battle so its expected to be unpredictable and explosive. I do read that Rob Williams had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter because of the rough plays and hard fouls on him by the opposing team.
10.) August 6, 1987 (Ginebra 106 Tanduay 103) – Interestingly, the last on my top 10 list as I posted this happened 30 years ago on August 6th, and it was also the last schedule of eliminations in the 1987 All-Filipino conference and it drew lesser attendance but still a fairly-sized crowd. For the two protagonist of the All-Filipino finals last year, one of them has to be eliminated and Ginebra, one game better than Tanduay with a 3-4 won-loss slate compared to the Rhum Makers’ 2-5, definitely had a better shot than the defending champions, who needed to win to force a playoff. An added spark for Ginebra was the return of playing coach Jaworski from the United States, his first appearance in the conference and the first time he will sit on the bench side by side with Ginebra’s new recruit Rudy Distrito, who has been playing well for the team on Big J’s absence. The game was slightly delayed on TV and the Ginebras controlled the tempo for most of the first three quarters and Tanduay playing catch-up. The most memorable highlights of this game came in the last 2:33 when Tanduay threatened to within two, 98-100. The Rhum Makers blew a chance to tie the game and when Joey Loyzaga converted on a three-point play to make it 103-98 for Ginebra. Ramon Fernandez went two-for-two from the free throw line to cut the lead to three. Tanduay had a chance again to inch closer but Freddie Hubalde missed on an easy layup. Joey Loyzaga split his free throw for a 104-100 lead with only 25 seconds left in the game clock. The Rhum Makers were now hoping for a miracle and Willie Generalao answered when he converted a three-point shot from 30 feet out, cutting the deficit to just one, 104-103, with time down to 18 seconds. Tanduay gave a quick foul and Chito Loyzaga sank both of his free throws. Rudy Distrito blocked a desperation three-point shot by Itoy Esguerra on the final play and it was over for the Rhum Makers. This game turn out to be the last time coach Turo Valenzona had called the shots for Tanduay as he was unceremoniously sacked by the management.
This was taken from Part of the game column and written by Tessa Jazmines on Sports Weekly Magazine dated September 12-19, 1986, after the four-game title series, describes how never in a long time there have been such classic clash as this one since the Crispa-Toyota days.
Sources: Credits to PBA archives, Champ Magazine September 9, 1986 issue, Champ Magazine May 26, 1987 issue, Sports Weekly Magazine August 14, 1987 issue, Sports Flash May 1987 issue.