The PBA’s First Conference in 1980 before one of the biggest crowds ever to attend at the Araneta Coliseum, inaugural highlights of the play-for-pay league saw Honda fought a gallant Tefilin before winning, 95-94, also introduced in that season was the three-point shot, as later that night, the Big J-led Toyota Tamaraws repulses arch rival Crispa Walk Tall Jeans, 112-107, as Jaworski showed a fine touch from the three-point arc by coming up with three conversions to finish the ballgame with 22 points.
After a memorable Opening Day, Tefilin shocked basketballdom in its second appearance, downing Crispa, Three nights later, it was the turn of Royal Tru Orange, led by Larry Pounds, to lower the boom on the favored Toyota Tamaraws.
May 6, 1980 – Toyota made a then-PBA record 39 assists as Robert Jaworski became the first man to reach the 2,000-assist mark in the Tamaraws’ 129-113 won ballgame against Honda.
Great Taste Discoverers, bannered by shifty imports Jim Hearns and the hulking Lewis Brown was the biggest surprise, with the unblemished record of six consecutive victories at the halfway mark of the eliminations, facing the Toyota Tamaraws, with a capacity crowd of 15,000, Toyota buried Great Taste with a 24-point lead sometime in the second period and went on to win, 118-109. It was a double celebration for the Tamaraws as the Big J became the third man in history to score 5,000 points. thus followed the footsteps of Atoy Co and Francis Arnaiz.
On June 12, 1980, Independence Day, an overflow crowd of 32,000 at the Big Dome witnessed Toyota won by a hairline 107-105 victory over Crispa.
Toyota finished their Open Conference campaign toting a 15-3 win-loss slate. became the first team to squeeze into the semifinals, beating Tefilin, 110-104. Joining the Tams were Great Taste, who finished second, Crispa and U/tex.
In the Semifinals, Toyota won its first two games, as Jaworski would convert triples at crunchtime, the Tamaraws scored the last six points in the last 1:34 in a Toyota 105-102 victory over U/tex. Against Great Taste, down 99-97 with 12 seconds left, the Big J launch a back-breaking three-point shot to seal the ballgame, 100-99, and give Toyota its second consecutive win in the semis.
The U/tex Wranglers, behind the brilliant coaching of Tommy Manotoc and the supporting hands of Adornado, imports Glen McDonald and Aaron James, Lim Eng Beng, Jimmy Noblezada and Fritz Gaston, surprised a lot of people by copping the first finals slot via quotient system as they finished the semis campaign with a 4-2 win-loss slate, similar to the records of Toyota and Crispa.
The Tamaraws and the Redmanizers dispute the last finals slot, with the Araneta Coliseum bursting to a capacity crowd of 25,000 fans to watch the do-or-die game, Toyota won a classic 102-100 victory over Crispa. the Redmanizers had a chance to go for the win but Atoy Co missed a hurried three-point attempt.
With the win, the stage was set for the unexpected championship battle between U/tex and Toyota for the PBA Open Conference Crown.