Playing the hero’s role by converting the winning shot in a basketball game is something every cager will cherish for a long time and will be talk upon by basketball fans that is worth remembering. Most noted in recent memory is Ginebra’s Bal David and who couldn’t forget Shell import Kenny Redfield’s buzzer-beating three-pointer in the 1996 knockout game against Ginebra.
In the late 1980s, there is an uploaded video titled PBA Furious Finishes 1986-1990 by Prey Productions on YouTube where we see three winning shots at the buzzer from Tanduay’s Willie Generalao, Anejo’s Romulo Mamaril and San Miguel’s Samboy Lim. Somehow, that PBA feature weren’t able to include three more from Great Taste’s Pido Jarencio and Anejo’s Sonny Jaworski in 1988 and Presto rookie Zaldy Realubit in his third game in 1989.
But let’s talk about the 1990s and so far, there have been 14 PBA players in my list who hit buzzer-beating shots that won the game for their team in the decade, I may still missed out some, but these locals have been verified to have scored the game winners, two of which I personally saw the game live (July 14 & August 11, 1991).
And just to make it clear, I’m referring to a game-winning shot as the buzzer sounded or the clock reads 0:00, not a winning basket with a tenths of a second, one, two or three seconds left, so Rudy Distrito’s miraculous shot in Game 7 of the 1991 First Conference finals will not be included because there is still one second left in the ballgame.
Three-point shot (His team down by two)
Dante Gonzalgo on April 5, 1990 – His gun-beating triple was made possible by Yves Dignadice’s two misses from the stripe with six seconds left. He did not hesitate a bit in taking the shot as Anejo escaped with a 123-122 victory over San Miguel Beer.
Al Solis on July 14, 1991 – With only four seconds left, the San Miguel Beermen up, 104-102, Al Solis escaped Romy Lopez’ defense and hurriedly unleashed an off-balance 30-footer that incredibly hit its mark and reverse the outcome, 105-104 for Diet Sarsi.
Boy Cabahug on October 29, 1994 in Iloilo City – In San Miguel’s first game after their Asian Games campaign, Kenny Travis had given the Beermen a 109-107 lead on a split free throw off a foul with five seconds remaining. On the final possession, Cabahug drilled in a triple at the buzzer to give Pepsi Mega a 110-109 win.
Three-point shot (His team down by one)
Bal David on February 23, 1997 – This game is the most remembered in the 1990s era. Bal David’s buzzer-beating long trey with 3.8 seconds remaining that sent the full-packed crowd into a wild frenzy and give Gordon’s Gin Boars a thrilling 83-81 victory over San Miguel Beermen.
Two-point shot (His team down by one)
Samboy Lim on May 3, 1990 – Well, this had more views on YouTube and the Skywalker delivered the cudgel basket as the late Butch Maniego says in Game 1 of the best-of-five series for third place against Presto Tivolis. What is impressive was the designed play of SMB coach Norman Black that was perfectly executed with three ticks to go in the 102-101 win.
Jerry Codinera on August 23, 1990 – Presto coach Jimmy Mariano made a mistake in Game 2 of the 1990 All-Filipino finals series by calling a timeout with just two seconds left on Purefoods possession and Presto leading by a single point. The Maestro, coach Baby Dalupan designed a play that resulted in a game-winning basket by Jerry Codinera. The alley-oop pass hit the glass with Patrimonio tried to tap it, the ball lands on Codinera’s hands and he scored on a buzzer-beating lay-up to give the Hotdogs a 125-124 victory. Actually, Presto’s Zaldy Realubit tip the ball out resulting to a goal-tending violation.
Terry Saldana on July 25, 1993 – Unfortunately for Terry, his winning shot was hardly remembered by fans because of the brawl that took place earlier in the Swift-Shell game involving Swift import Ronnie Thompkins and Shell’s Ricky Relosa. The Mighty Meaties played inspired without the ejected Thompkins in the second half and escape with a 118-117 overtime win on Saldana’s marginal basket and from what I recall, an overjoyed Swift coach Yeng Guiao and Vergel Meneses lying on the floor after the team’s unforgetable victory.
Teroy Albarillo on August 5, 1994 – The first game at the start of the 1994 Commissioners Cup semifinals. It was a sorry 91-92 loss by leader Alaska Milkmen (9-2 won-loss slate) at the hands of defending champion Swift Mighty Meaties following a buzzer beating basket by reserve guard Teroy Albarillo, who was at the right place inside the paint when he converted the winning shot.
Jojo Lastimosa on April 28, 1995 – Luckily, I found an article on google search on the winning shot by Jolas that I remember seeing on TV in the Big Dome’s old backboard. Lastimosa’s follow up of Poch Juinio’s missed as time ran out in Alaska’s 98-97 overtime win over Sta.Lucia in the crucial stages of the All-Filipino Cup semis.
Bal David on May 12, 1999 – Asi Taulava could have been the hands down choice for the Best Player of the Conference but lost everything on a Wednesday night when Ginebra’s Bal David beat the Phone Pals with a buzzer-beating shot for an 82-81 victory for the Kings and they celebrated as if they won a championship.
Two-point shot (The game is tied)
Elmer Reyes on August 11, 1991 – The Alaska Airmen failed to protect a six-point lead, 102-96, with less than a minute to play and it was really a heartbreaking loss to Purefoods in their last meeting in the 1991 All-Filipino semifinals. Elmer Reyes starred with back-to-back hits in the dying seconds of the game and he scored the winning layup for the Hotdogs’ 104-102 win.
Ato Agustin on September 22, 1991 – Agustin rose to the occasion and hit the winning shot in San Miguel’s 125-123 win over Shell in the team’s second outing in the 1991 Third Conference, the game where SMB import Andrew Moten scored 69 points that included 12 triples. (The October 13 SMB 126-124 win over Swift from what I remember was a buzzer-beating jumper by Agustin too, but the Manila Standard newspaper wrote that there is still one second left and Swift had one final attempt, Agustin could have been the only PBA player who has done two buzzer-beating game winners in the same conference) Interestingly, Agustin’s career-high of 44 points that took place two months ago was spoiled by Al Solis’ three-pointer that steal the game from the Beermen in the July 14 Diet Sarsi-San Miguel tussle.
Eugene Quilban on June 16, 1992 – Quilban slipped past three Beermen and hit on a layup as time expired in 7-Up’s come-from-behind 103-101 victory over San Miguel.
Vergel Meneses on August 11, 1995 – Game 1 of the best-of-five semifinal series against Purefoods, the Orange Juicers had 7.4 seconds to set up a winning shot and Meneses hit a 19-footer from the right flank to give Sunkist an 85-83 victory.
Kenneth Duremdes on March 24, 1999 – Duremdes played a spoiler’s role on Purefoods new player, foreign-breed Al Segova, who torched the nets with a game-high 28 points. Duremdes came through with the most important shot for the Milkmen – a looping, medium-range jumper from nearly 20-feet with no time left in the 85-83 Alaska victory.