The First Conference of the 1984 Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL) was called Ambassador’s Cup. Teams that participated were Development Bank of Rizal, Perpetual Savings Bank, CF Sharp, ESQ Marketing, Magnolia Ice Cream, RFM-Swifts, Masagana 99, Coal Fields and Arellano University. Six participants of last year’s Founder’s Cup begged off or withdrew before the start of the season.
In the middle of the tournament, Perpetual Savings Bank, sister team of Bank of Rizal, suffered a crisis and the team owners decided to sell the bank. Bayside picked up the franchise and the team made it to the semifinals. Emerging as the power to reckon with were Bank of Rizal, runner-up to Arellano University in the previous conference, and Masagana 99, who was a successful team in their Interclub days. The two teams played in the championship and the Bankers, plagued by threats of disbandment, went all out to score a 2-0 sweep over the 99ers, winning 96-93 and 102-93, for the title. Adjudged as MVP of the conference is Leo Austria of Masagana 99.
The champion team faced disbandment immediately. Among the Bankers are Mukesh Advani, Rey Perez, Meneles Viray, Adonis Tierra, Ray Obias, Dwight Chua, Sonny Cabatu, Ferdinand Santos, Dennis Carbonilla and Edgar Amisola. Other members of the team Zeo Agsunod, Richard Mendoza, Rene Addun, Roeller Miguel and Eduardo Baldomero. Their coach is Nemie Villegas.
The Second Conference was known as President’s Cup, Arellano decided not to participate in view of the fact that team owner Peter Cayco was the incumbent president of the PABL so as to signified sportsmanship and fair play. Only four were left from the nine teams that saw action in the Ambassador’s Cup, these were ESQ, Bayside, Magnolia and Masagana, five teams filled in the void, the Army Jungle Fighters, Concrete Aggregates, Equipment Research and Development Corporation, Imperial Textile and Masagana 99’s sister team, Maisagana. The team of Edward Shirley Que, an erstwhile cellar-dweller came out on top, under coach Raymundo “Chuck” Barreiro, a former Tanduay player and San Beda star. ESQ Marketing beat hard-luck Masagana 99 for the championship, two games to one, winning the deciding game, 91-84 on October 10. Center Sonny Cabatu of ESQ was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy.
The Third PABL Conference called Invitationals opened a month and a half later. ESQ had another coach in Joe Lipa, formerly of Bayside, replacing Barreiro. Five teams dropped out of competition; CAC, ERDC, ITM, Bayside and Maisagana. Three new teams were added, they are Golden Rice Cereals, Rizal Provincial Athletic Club and Crispa-Arellano. The entry of the Redmanizers signified an attempt by the former biggies of the MICAA to field in their farm teams like they did in the old days.
The Merchants, Rizalians and Army Jungle Fighters closed out the double-round eliminations with similar 9 wins and 5 losses. Rizal A.C. clinched the first finals berth by virtue of a higher quotient. ESQ defeated Army, 77-67, in a playoff to face Rizal A.C. in the titular showdown.
The ESQ Merchants repeated their second conference superiority by sweeping Rizal Provincial Athletic Club, 2-0, in the post-Christmas showdown that closed out the PABL 1984 season. The Merchants won Game one by squeaker, 82-80, and then masterfully weaved a 95-80 victory in Game two for the title. Sonny Cabatu of ESQ was once again voted MVP for the second straight conference. The 6-5 slotman compiled more statistical points than Army’s Meneles Viray and Magnolia’s Jeffrey Graves.
Members of the victorious ESQ squad are Cabatu, Adonis Tierra, Joshua Villapando, Joel Valle, Juanito Guzman, Ricky Cui, Florendo Ritualo, Billy Lim, Mukesh Advani, Aurelio Jalmasco, Alex Regis, Guillermo Valerio and Harmon Codinera. Edward Que is President of ESQ Marketing, a construction supply firm. His wife, Shirley, once played for St.Stephen’s High in the WNCAA.