The team standings after the two-round eliminations of the 1979 PBA Open Conference were: Royal Tru-Orange (13-3), Toyota (12-4), Crispa (11-5), Great Taste (11-5), defending champion U/Tex (8-8), Tanduay (6-10), Gilbey’s (5-11), Honda (4-12), and Filmanbank (2-14).
During the semifinal round, there was a consolation derby for five teams which failed to make it in the round of four, these are U/Tex, Tanduay, Gilbey’s, Honda and Filmanbank, they will play in a round-robin at 3:30 p.m. schedule and at stake are the last two qualifying berths for the Invitational third conference, the top two teams will join the four semifinalist as the PBA were unable to draw foreign entries in the final conference of the season. Gilbey’s (4-0) and U/Tex (3-1) eventually made it over Tanduay (2-2), Honda (1-3), and Filmanbank (0-4).
Going into the round of four, top-seeded RTO started on a winning note with a 93-84 triumph over Crispa in the opening day of the semifinals, after the first round, the Orangemen remain unbeaten at 3-0, the Redmanizers at 2-1, bounce back with victories over Toyota, 102-92, and Great Taste, 134-114, the Tamaraws with 1-2 and winless Great Taste at 0-3.
Toyota got back at Crispa in the second round while Royal are almost assured of a first finals berth with their fourth win against Great Taste. On the fifth playing date on October 23, the unbeaten Orangemen lower the boom on Crispa with a 110-102 victory, while Toyota moved a game ahead over their arch rivals, pounding on hapless Great Taste. The Redmanizers had an easier time scoring a 155-127 win over Great Taste (0-6) to finish with an even 3-3 won-loss slate, but Toyota (4-2) clinch the second finals seat with a 113-100 win over Royal (5-1), which absorbed their first loss in the semifinals, thereby eliminating the Redmanizers and arrange a finals showdown with RTO for the Open championship.
Royal Tru-Orange, which would later be known as the San Miguel Beermen and went on to become the league’s winningest ballclub, won their first title by taking the first two games of the best-of-five series by similar five-point margin, 104-99 and 100-95, the Tamaraws escape with a 99-98 win in Game 3 to avoid a possible sweep. In the title-clinching Game 4, import Larry Pounds shot 51 points but it was his partner Otto Moore, who provided the winning play, he fed Pounds for a go-ahead easy basket off Robert Jaworski with six seconds remaining in the game and give RTO the lead for the first time, 102-101, the Tamaraws did not call a timeout and Francis Arnaiz drove home with the ball and was toyed by Yoyong Martirez, who batted the ball from behind.
The final count was 3-1 for Royal as they became the fourth squad to win the championship since the birth of the PBA and has now joined Toyota, Crispa and U/Tex among the elite teams as RTO coach Ed Ocampo won his first title as a mentor. Great Taste took third place via similar 3-1 victory over Crispa.