Category Archives: Philippine Basketball Association

PBA players who shot buzzer-beating game winners in the 90s

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.



When Fernandez and Atoy Co were teammates, what went wrong with Manila Beer

When Manila Beer (formerly Beer Hausen) beefed up its lineup with the acquisition of Fortunato “Atoy ” Co, Jr and Elpidio “Yoyoy” Villamin from the defunct Crispa Redmanizers, the winningest PBA ballclub which disbanded before the start of the 1985 season, this marks the first time that two MVP winners on opposing sides (Crispa and Toyota) will play alongside together. Reigning two-time Most Valuable Player Ramon Fernandez and one-time MVP Atoy Co on the same team! Count in Yoyoy Villamin, one of the strong power-forwards at that time and El Presidente won’t miss the presence of former teammate Ricky Relosa inside the paint, who decided to have a Toyota reunion of sorts at Ginebra. Add the high-leaping forward Gary Vargas as well, one of Gilbey’s Gins’ top scorers.

Manila Beer was a team considered by experts at the start of the year as most likely to challenge Great Taste’s domination. But after two conferences, the short-lived Franchise and Fortune Cookie team-up resulted to the Brewmasters’ falter, flopped and failure to land a berth in the semifinals. So what really went wrong? Was it the coaching? team chemistry? Fernandez’ subpar performance?

Atoy Co was back in action after being operated in the right knee and was used sparingly by coach Loreto Carbonell in their first round losses to NCC, Tanduay and Great Taste.

The Beermen or the Brewmasters actually started the Open Conference on a high note, winning two of their first three games against Shell and Ginebra and losing only by one point to Magnolia in their first game. Their import, 6-8 Doug Harris was good enough to withstand the first batch of imports early on, but when the likes of Rich Adams, David Pope and Joe Binion came in, Harris seems an inadequate choice. Manila Beer lost three in a row, including a 35-point blowout to Great Taste and Harris scored below the 30-point mark in two of those losses. Harris played his last game on March 28 and the Beermen ended their losing string with a hard-fought 92-89 triumph over Magnolia (the night Magnolia’s Carlson Samlani had a colossal mental lapse in the 2nd quarter, goes into the PBA record books as the first to score two points for the opposition), he was replaced by the comebacking, towering 6-11 Lew Brown. Manila Beer were only good for fifth place at five wins and seven losses after the eliminations. They sweep all their quarterfinal assignments but saw their efforts went to naught as they were outplayed by collegiate standouts in the playoff game against Ron Jacobs’ NCC boys.

Man-Mountain Lew Brown. Manila Beer have been bumped off by Northern Consolidated in the playoff for the last semifinal slot.

After a dismal showing in the Open Conference, Manila Beer opted for an imported coach, former U-Tex import Aaron James as a replacement for Bonnie Carbonell, who’s taking his demotion sitting down besides James starting the All-Filipino Conference. Team Manager Andy Jao’s decision to bring in James drew some flak as he was hardly coaching when the Brewmasters dropped their first three games. Finally on July 4, 1985, former RTO and Toyota coach Ed Ocampo was seen in the Manila Beer bench and assumed the coaching chores of the team that was built around Ramon Fernandez and some other former Toyota players.

Ed started with a bang, guiding the team to a 90-81 first win against Shell. Two days later, Manila Beer suffered a heartbreaking 105-106 double-overtime loss to Ginebra San Miguel in Iloilo City. The Brewmasters could have won the game several times but the breaks went against them and Fernandez and Atoy Co missed all-important foul shots. In the second round of eliminations, Manila Beer scored three consecutive victories as they got back at Tanduay (125-112), which beat them by 14 points in the first round, Ginebra in the same kind of a cardiac finish after falling behind by as much as 13 points (86-85), and Magnolia (90-80). Their last two outings would rendered Andy Jao and Ed Ocampo speechless, the July 18 match versus Great Taste had Manila Beer taking a 13-point halftime lead, the Coffee Makers were able to force overtime when Ramon Fernandez failed to sink one of the two free throws that could have won it for the Brewmasters in regulation, Fernandez flubbed both charities and when Great Taste was ahead by only one point in the extension period, costly errors by Fernandez anew led to their defeat in the all-important match.

In what turn out to be a knockout game against Shell in the final day of the elimination round on July 25, It was only Atoy Co who was playing well while the rest of the Brewmasters were lethargic and a sorry sight, Co hit 19 points in the first half but for some inexplicable reason, Coach Ocampo decided to let Co rot on the bench in the second half, Gary Vargas too was on the bench far too long. In a bitter end, Fernandez bungled whatever chance Manila Beer have to save the game by throwing a sloppy pass that enabled Shell to snap the ball away and preserve a 95-90 victory and ultimately spell doom on Manila Beer’s All-Filipino campaign.

So going back to the question on what went wrong, most of the blame were on Fernandez as there were published accusations of game-fixing hurdled against him by certain quarters and the rumored rift with the Manila Beer team management. But their number one mistake according to the late Ronnie Nathanielsz in his article written on Champ Magazine titled The Manila Beer-Mon Fernandez affair was not being able to find a suitable replacement for ballhandler Mike Bilbao, who retired after last season. It says “Fernandez was a resounding success last season not by himself but in tandem with Mike Bilbao whose uncanny ability to make the openings and get the ball to Mon where he was most effective offensively made Beer Hausen a potent team offensively.” This was back-up by perceptions of something like 70 percent of Bilbao’s assists were to Fernandez. While the team gained something on Atoy Co being an outside threat to their offense, they lost a lot in the offensive game of Fernandez in the penetration and assists. Sportswriter King de Jesus in his article What, Really, is wrong with Manila Beer? wrote “All the other teams have guards that are reliable ball carriers and capable of leading their teammates. None of Manila Beer’s backcourt men fits into that kind of a role, Tim Coloso is not a court general, Fritz Gaston has the brains but not the quickness and the instinct, Ramon Cruz is just too small to be a forward but that does not mean he will fit into the backcourt position, Eddieboy Mendoza does not have the command of his teammates and Emer Legaspi does not have the experience in the role.”

Fernandez was benched in their opening day 114-112 win over Tanduay at the start of the Third Conference. According to him, team manager Andy Jao was already convincing Abet Guidaben of Tanduay to move over to their team. The Brewmasters had a surprise start with another returning import Francois Wise, winning four of their first five games before the trade between Ramon Fernandez and Abet Guidaben was consummated, sending the franchise to the Rhum Makers.

The opening day drama of the 1985 Third Conference was Manila Beer management’s decision to bench last year’s MVP Mon Fernandez. Their action made a mockery of the PBA and for basketball fans who wanted to see their favorite stars in action. Strange coincidence three years later when on the exact same date (September 8), El Presidente was bench by Purefoods starting Game two of the All-Filipino finals.

Fernandez’ last game in Manila Beer jersey was against Ginebra on September 22 where he scored only 10 points and the Brewmasters survived a furious fourth quarter rally by the Ginebras from 17 points down at the start of the final period to eke out a 114-113 win. While Fernandez and Atoy Co as teammates wasn’t quite a success, El Presidente moving to Tanduay gives him an opportunity to play together with another former MVP from Crispa, Freddie Hubalde. The two would blend well as teammates and would lead Tanduay Rhum Makers to three championships from 1986-1987.

References: Champ Magazine dated April 12, 1985, July 12, 1985, July 26, 1985, September 20, 1985, October 11, 1985, Atlas Sports Weekly dated April 6-12, 1985, Sports Flash dated October 3-9, 1985.







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Posted by on January 5, 2019 in Philippine Basketball Association


Before the dynasty, Great Taste missed out the final four (’84 1st AFC)

1984 was the year when the Great Taste basketball team is expected to have a breakthrough season and finally land into the winner’s circle. Ever since the ballclub signed the former Houston Rockets draftee and naturalized filipino Ricardo Brown as a rookie and three-time MVP William ‘Bogs’ Adornado in the previous year and up to the 1986 season, the Brown-Manny Victorino era (since Bogs played only two seasons with GT) of the orange jersey club have always been a familiar fixture among the top four teams playing in the semifinals.

This was not the case during the First Conference of the 1984 PBA season, the first of the two All-Filipino conferences that year. During the off-season, Great Taste have acquired former Toyota players Arnie Tuadles and Chito Loyzaga, along with Frankie Lim, who will be reunited with his former Tanduay teammate Jimmy Manansala. The Coffee Makers has got a high-powered trio of Brown, Adornado and Tuadles, a triple threat as the CFC franchise appeared to be cinch to win their first PBA title.

Right from their first game as the league opens its 10th season on March 25, 1984, the Coffee Makers showed why they are the team to beat by defeating the defending champion and grandslam titlist Crispa Redmanizers, 98-93. Great Taste finished the two-round eliminations in a tie with Crispa at 10 wins and four losses, a game behind leader and outright semifinalist Northern Cement, whom they beat twice while NCC beat Crispa twice. The Coffee Makers’ nemesis turn out to be coach Arturo Valenzona’s Gilbey’s Gin, the team that also denied GT of a finals seat in last year’s All-Filipino. If the previous format in the All-Filipino a year ago was followed, Beer Hausen and Gilbey’s Gin, both with 8 wins and 6 losses, would already play a knockout game for the last semifinals berth as the Gold Eagle Beermen, the team that caught the last bus in the quarterfinals, are four games behind the Brewmasters and Gin Tonics.

But the conference format of two outright semifinalist and back-to-zero, round-robin quarterfinals among the next four teams, which first started in the 1982 Third Conference with Yco-Tanduay on the losing end of the setup, may well haunt the Coffeemen for a while as they are force into a knockout game with Crispa.

The 1984 Great Taste Coffee Makers at the start of the season with their muse. Photo courtesy of Ricardo Brown’s facebook account.

The Great Taste debacle all took place in the month of June and the first two weeks was a stunning turn of events that eliminated the title-starved Great Taste team in coach Baby Dalupan’s first full conference with the Coffee Makers.

June 5 – A weekend crowd of more than 20,000 at the Araneta Coliseum watch the second meeting between Great Taste and Crispa. The Coffee Makers in their last assignment only needs to repeat over the Redmanizers and take the second ticket to outright qualification in the semis. Great Taste raced to a 14-point lead early in the second quarter but the Redmanizers as always at their best and gutsiest, rise to the occasion and displayed character, refusing to buckle and survived the loss on six fouls of Abet Guidaben and a searing last ditch effort by the Coffee Makers to forge a playoff.

June 10 – Great Taste lost again to Crispa, 120-124, in the first playoff match for an automatic berth in the semis. Last year’s MVP Abet Guidaben was again the key in Crispa’s conquest of Great Taste, scoring 33 big points.

June 12 – Gold Eagle Beermen soared high for an overtime 103-97 upset win over Great Taste at the start of the quarterfinal round. Marte Saldana and rookie Joey Loyzaga scored 26 and 20 points respectively and Abe King taking 13 boards and scoring 18 points.

June 14 – In a must-win situation for both clubs and it will be curtains for the loser, Gilbey’s outgunned Great Taste in another overtime loss for the Coffee Makers, 151-145. Beer Hausen’s victory over Gold Eagle in the second game practically booted the Coffee Makers out of contention for the round-of-four. Great Taste lost six men on disqualification, they are Jimmy Manansala, Bogs Adornado, Joy Carpio, Alejo Alolor, Manny Victorino and Joel Banal. The GT boys from the fiery words of Adornado, Victorino and Tuadles says the referees help them much in their downfall. Last year’s Most Improved Player Terry Saldana and the backcourt duo of Sonny Jaworski and Francis Arnaiz have combined for 97 out of the 151 points scored by Gilbey’s with Terry topscoring with 36 points and Jaworski with 33 and Arnaiz with 28. Adornado and Victorino led the scoring for the Coffee Makers with 33 and 32 points.

The foldup in the two consecutive overtime losses suffered by Great Taste in the quartefinal round could be the result of low morale after losing to Crispa in the playoff. The Coffee Makers closed out their first conference campaign with a no-bearing 142-126 win over third semifinalist Beer Hausen.

The disappointment wouldn’t last long for coach Baby Dalupan’s boys from the ignominious exit, this gives the players the determination to play even harder and in the following conference, Great Taste finally bag the Big One after 10 long years. Not only did the Coffee Makers scored a 3-0 shutout over Beer Hausen in the Second All-Filipino Conference championship but they beat the deposed champ Crispa Redmanizers four times in their four meetings.

Great Taste would win four straight PBA titles in a row, retaining the All-Filipino crown the following year, a feat that will not be duplicated for the next 27 years.

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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in Philippine Basketball Association


1989 SMB vs Purefoods: A look back at their first All-Filipino finals showdown

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1989 San Miguel Beer grandslam season next year. It’s also been almost 30 years since when San Miguel and Purefoods Hotdogs battled in their first All-Filipino finals series. In my point of view, the 1989 dream match won by the Beermen in six games is probably the best of all the PBA All-Filipino championships. This was a basketball contest of the highest caliber as both squads play finesse, power, scientific and efficient ball.

Taking a quick look at the history of the All-Filipino Conference before, this tournament was often held with low regard, it was scrap twice in 1981 and 1982 and when the PBA began having a regular best-of-seven playoffs in the Import-Conference starting in 1985, the All-Filipino remains a best-of-five series from 1985-1988.

And as I enumerate four reasons on why this SMB-Purefoods showdown should tops, let’s start with the coaching battle.

1. Norman Black vs Baby Dalupan

Coach Baby Dalupan is in his first full conference with the Hotdogs. Back in 1985, the Maestro have delivered the third straight championship for the Great Taste ballclub over Norman Black’s Magnolia team, where he was the import and in his first season as playing coach. Black would be more than willing to get another crack at the Dean of Philippine coaches and in the 1989 All-Filipino, it finally happen. Unlike four years ago, Black was already a winning coach this time, having given the Beermen four championships and in fact, won four titles in the last five conferences.

Looking back at the finals preview as I borrowed some contents from the article written by King De Jesus in the Sports Eye issue, dated August 29-September 4, 1989, the contrasting styles of the two coaches, Black’s coaching is described as scientific and totality-oriented, he makes a definite assessment of his team’s strengths against that of the opponent’s, makes game plans accordingly and fields men who will execute those plans best. Baby Dalupan, on the other hand, is a veteran and winner from the days when basketball was more like poker rather than chess. Dalupan is a wizard with a sense of making surprise moves, an expert in matching up of men, sometimes he pulls off gambits and baits the other coach to make mistakes. 

2. The battle of national teams, the NCC boys of coach Ron Jacobs and Joe Lipa’s boys.

San Miguel boost of seven players from the Northern Cement basketball team that were ABC champions in 1986, they were Samboy Lim, Elmer Reyes, Hector Calma, Yves Dignadice, Franz Pumaren, Antonio Yturri and Alfie Almario. While Purefoods had six from the Men’s National team that place fourth in the ABC meet a year later, Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa, Jerry Codinera, Glenn Capacio, Nelson Asaytono and Dindo Pumaren. Both Jerry Codinera and another Purefoods player and former beerman Pido Jarencio were also from the famed NCC squad, so with the exception of Allan Caidic of Presto, nine out of the 10 NCC locals played in the finals of the 1989 All-Filipino Conference.

Three other former national team members in the Purefoods lineup were Codinera’s reliever Jack Tanuan, Al Solis and Ludovico Valenciano. Tanuan was with the Philippine team in the 1986 Asian Games while Solis and Valenciano were among the first batch of NCC squad that began playing in the PBA during the 1984 season.

3. Ramon Fernandez against his former team

El Presidente has been waiting for this opportunity to get back at Purefoods after he was unceremoniously traded to the Beermen after the 1988 All-Filipino finals. A year ago, he was teammates with Jerry Codinera, whom Fernandez hailed as “he’s going to become great”, now he is battling Codinera in a match-up at the center slot. The other Beermen in the rosters were Alvin Teng, the two rookies, Bobby Jose and Renato Agustin, and Jeffrey Graves. If Teng is the beerman most associated with the NCC boys, then Al Solis is one hotdog player that has the best chemistry with the former Lipa boys at Purefoods. The two veteran players of the Hotdogs were the returning Pongkee Alolor, the most senior in the Purefoods lineup that year, and Sonny Cabatu.

Patrimonio is to Purefoods now as to what Mon Fernandez is to San Miguel. They were Hotdog teammates for one conference a year ago.

4. The nucleus of both squads, so deep

Fernandez vs Codinera at center, Yves Dignadice and Alvin Teng vs Alvin Patrimonio and Nelson Asaytono at power forwards, Samboy Lim and Elmer Reyes vs Jojo Lastimosa and Glenn Capacio at the small forward and shooting guard positions and the battle of point guards, Hector Calma vs Dindo Pumaren. Then there’s Ato Agustin vs Al Solis. The match-ups were so perfect and it was initially billed as Experience vs Youth. This was long time ago when the league had an overwhelming homegrown talents and when Fil-Ams haven’t lorded it over and having more than one Fil-Am in the lineup is considered a taboo.


Samboy Lim and Jojo Lastimosa in their only championship match-up


When I check out the players’ averages in the first three games of the title series, it was Fernandez who stood out among the Beermen with an average of 26.33 points, followed by Dignadice with 19.33 points and Samboy Lim with 14.33 points. The big three of the Hotdogs were Alvin Patrimonio with a 23-point average in the first three games, Codinera follows with 21.33 points and Lastimosa with 21 points. I believe Alvin Patrimonio wound up with the best scoring averages after the finals as he scored 37 and 31 points in Games five and six.

The final scores in the six-game series indicated how much fireworks both teams had as San Miguel’s lowest output is 112 in Game One and Purefoods’ lowest was 109 in Game three and Game six. The closest game and the most memorable night was the fifth match which went into overtime on August 31, 1989, the Beermen threatened to finish off the Hotdogs by taking a 17-point lead early in the third period, Purefoods came back and even lead by seven points late in the fourth quarter.

At the end of the titular series, the choice for the finals MVP were narrowed down to four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez and flashy playmaker Hector Calma as they stood all over the rest. Fernandez led the Beermen in statistics with 22-point average and 8.8 rebounds. When it came to consistency, Calma emerge as the best as he oftentimes bailed the Beermen out of trouble with his perimeter shooting and masterful set plays.

Black describes the Beermen’s 4-2 victory over Purefoods as “sweetest of them all.” as San Miguel won their first All-Filipino title. His victory over Dalupan tied coach Norman with Dante Silverio as the third winningest coach in PBA history that time with five titles.

When comparing their 1989 showdown to their All-Filipino finals rematches in the 1990s, particularly 1993 when Purefoods (renamed Coney Island) finally beat San Miguel in the finals, Patrimonio, Codinera, Pumaren and Capacio were already equal in terms of championship experience, the Beermen in which Allan Caidic joined his fellow NCC teammates were already slowed down by their advance age, Ramon Fernandez was pushing 40 and Hector Calma was no longer the top point guard, San Miguel coach Norman Black have already assigned Ato Agustin to the pointmaker chores. Back in their sophomore years, Patrimonio, Codinera, Lastimosa and Capacio maybe lacking in championship experience but they were already playing like veterans in the finals.

Two of my favorite quotes at that time that came out on Sports Flash issue on September 7-13, 1989, one from coach Norman Black when he quipped “Mon never lets us down,” when asked on Fernandez’s worth to the team. The other quote was from El Presidente himself when he said “You can’t win the championship half-cook, talent alone isn’t enough, you need experience.”

The 1989 Fiesta All-Filipino championship series resulted to a gate gross receipts of P 7,646,830. The Anejo-Purefoods best-of-five tussle in the previous year grossed P 6,207,005. Lest we forget during the finals series were the team’s cheerleaders, the big bosses, SMC’s top man Andres Soriano and on the Purefoods side, Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala. Indeed, there would never be an All-Filipino championship like this again in the years to come.


Erratum: The title was originally referred as the first-ever Best-of-7 All-Filipino finals series, I had to change it to their first All-Filipino finals showdown. It must have slip my mind while writing this blog and then suddenly remember that back in 1984, the PBA already had their first best-of-7 All-Filipino finals series between Crispa and Gilbey’s. But when talking about the second conference of the season, this is the first best-of-seven series. 

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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in Philippine Basketball Association


Ranking the Tanduay imports from 1985-1987

The old Tanduay ballclub of Don Manolo Elizalde. It was in their last three PBA seasons starting in 1985 in the ULTRA years when the team signed up three Crispa stars Abet Guidaben, Freddie Hubalde and Padim Israel, along with Willie Generalao of Gilbey’s, when they finally became a real threat and a contender for the PBA championship.

There have been nine imports that have played for Tanduay during that three-year period and the Rhum Makers would you believe actually had the best crop of imports compared to their finals rivals Great Taste and Ginebra, which had their share of lemons, Ginebra with Harold Driver and Anthony Hunter, and Great Taste having more. The likes of Ronnie Valentine (3rd round pick by Denver in 1980 NBA draft) and Freeman Williams (1st round pick and 8th overall, chosen by Boston in 1978 NBA draft), even though the Rhum Makers were eliminated in their respective conferences in 1985 and 1987 were no pushovers. Benny “the outlaw” Anders was replaced after two games mainly because the stakes were high on Tanduay’s grandslam bid in 1986 and fans were even anticipating his match-up with Billy Ray Bates of Ginebra.

Ranking the Tanduay imports from 1985-1987, the top two is a toss-up between their two best import awardees who led the team to a PBA title; Rob Williams and David Thirdkill. I would lean towards Thirdkill as the best among the Tanduay reinforcements as he was the more dominant import during the 1987 Open Conference. Thirdkill had a 51.9 average in 12 games in the eliminations, 49.6 points in six games in the semifinals and 52.4 points in the 4-1 finals victory against the Michael Young-led Great Taste.

Rob Williams and his sidekick Andre McKoy in the 1986 Reinforced triumph comes in at second and third. Williams averages 38.2 in 24 games and McKoy with 29.6 points per game average in 23 games. Williams overall averages 39.6 points, counting the 23 games he played in the Open Conference where the Rhum Makers finishes fourth.

David Pope, a favorite among PBA fans during the 1985 Open and was one of the only two Tanduay imports who isn’t teammate with Ramon Fernandez, is at fourth when he led Tanduay to an outright semis berth after the eliminations. Pope played 22 games and averages 34.9 points with a high of 61.

Andy Thompson, whom Tanduay finally settled as Rob Williams’ partner after four straight losses and two import change in the 1986 Open is fifth on my rankings. Thompson averages 23.5 points in 20 outings.

Ronnie Valentine, the only Tanduay import who became teammates with Guidaben and Fernandez after the trade between the PBA’s premier centers and being handled by two coaches, Orly Castelo and Arturo Valenzona, is at sixth. He average 43.8 points in 15 games in the 1985 Third Conference.

Freeman Williams, who has the highest output for Tanduay imports with 82 points set in his second game in the PBA on October 6, 1987 is number seven. Williams averages 46.3 points and hit the 50-point mark five times in 10 games he played. But he had two off-nights and a miserable scoring of only 11 points, first in the opening game of the 1987 Third Conference where Tanduay was blown out by 43 points by Shell and in their second round elimination game against Great Taste.

Benny Anders is at eight, who arrived with a bang, only to be sent back home. He scored 27 and 40 points in two games. And finally at the bottom of the ladder is their former import Merlin Wilson, who was one of the first two imports to play at the PBA’s brand new home in ULTRA in Pasig when Tanduay played newcomer Shell in the first game of the 1985 PBA season. Wilson can only play two games and was replaced by David Pope. He played 16 games for Tanduay back in 1979 and probably holds the record then for a year-long gap upon return until Sylvester Gray broke it by playing for Anejo in 1990 and returning to play for Alaska in 1997.

Not to be forgotten is Billy Goodwin, a third round pick by Milwaukee Bucks in the 1983 NBA draft who never got a chance to display his stuff after the Tanduay management found him too small, standing less than 6-4. Goodwin was a replacement for Benny Anders in 1986 and was slated to play in their fourth game against Alaska. Coach Arturo Valenzona opted for temporary substitute Andre McKoy to teamed up with old partner Williams instead.




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Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Philippine Basketball Association


Which team won in the battle of PBA brand names

Who’s got the edge in the battle of corporate rivalries, team names with the same brand that played on the hardcourt. In this blog, I’ll talk about five of the PBA brand names which are Beer, Coffee, Milk, Softdrink and a Foodmaker identified with the Hotdogs. Somehow, Ice Cream products weren’t able to have a collision in the PBA as one year separates Magnolia (1987) and Presto (1988) as well as Presto already a defunct fanchise when Purefoods decided to renamed its team to Coney Island. And as I google search the difference between a Rhum and a Gin, Tanduay have also disbanded when La Tondena, Inc. change its product from Ginebra San Miguel to Anejo Rum 65 back in 1988.

Beer Hausen vs Gold Eagle (1984)

Interestingly, SMC opted not to used the San Miguel Beer flagship to compete directly with Beer Hausen and Manila Beer when Asia Brewery Inc. joined the league in 1984. Instead, they used their other Beer brand Gold Eagle and in the following year, Magnolia Ice Cream. I considered Gold Eagle Beer to be the weakest of all the team names of the now winningest PBA franchise. During the pre-season, Gold Eagle was able to acquire one of the top PBA superstars in former Toyota center-forward Abe King to go up against his former teammate Ramon Fernandez at Beer Hausen.

In the battle of Beers, Gold Eagle won their first meeting on April 8, 112-101. From thereon, it was all Beer Hausen in their next six matches. Ramon Fernandez scored his fourth triple-double of the season of 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assist as Beer Hausen exact revenge with a 95-94 squeaker the following month on May 8. Fernandez almost scored another triple-double of 35-9-13 in the Brewmasters’ 113-109 victory over Gold Eagle in their first meeting in the Second All-Filipino Conference on August 23. The second conference of 1984 was the first time the league will have a five-team semifinals and if not for the insignificant best-of-three quarterfinal pairings (Country Fair was 0-11), Beer Hausen and Gold Eagle, both with five wins and six losses, will probably clash for the last semifinals berth.

Great Taste vs Hills Bros (1987)

General Milling Corporation renamed its team in the 1987 PBA season from Alaska Milkmen to Hills Bros Coffee Kings. The corporate rivalry with the CFC ballclub Great Taste will no longer be Coffee vs Milk but Coffee vs Coffee. To this day, Great Taste 3-0 finals sweep over Hills Bros in the All-Filipino Conference remains as the only PBA championship between two teams with the same brand. Great Taste has the edge in the coffee war, winning six times to three for Hills Bros. In the Open Conference, two former Manila Beer imports who led the defunct Brewmasters to the finals in each of the last two seasons played against each other, Michael Young of Great Taste and Francois Wise of Hills Bros. The Coffee Makers won easily, 141-119 on April 26 as Young scored 45 points to Wise’ 42 points.

Alaska Milk vs Great Taste Milk (1988) / Alaska vs Tivoli Milk (1991) 

Great Taste title-clinching 109-108 victory over Hills Bros on September 8, 1987 was the last time they wear the orange and white jersey as the Coffee Makers. The ballclub decided to have a new, blue and white/yellow uniform as the Great Taste Milkmasters starting the one-week special PBA/IBA series. In the third conference, the Milk product of Great Taste was no match to the Coffee Kings of Hills Bros and got a broom, being beaten four straight times.

Despite two runner-up finishes by Hills Bros, its no surprise the team will return to the more refreshing name Alaska Milkmen come the 1988 PBA season. If the first two conferences last year was Coffee vs Coffee, this time, its Milk vs Milk. In their first meeting in the Open Conference, Great Taste played without an import for the second straight game and Alaska led by 19 points in the fourth period but had to overcome a furious rally by the Milkmasters to prevail, 112-106. Alaska repeated with a 133-119 victory on April 21 as Great Taste coach Baby Dalupan pulled away his starters at the start of the fourth quarter as a sign of protest on the referees’ sloppy officiating. In the All-Filipino, two individual scoring, season-high were made in an Alaska-Great Taste game. One half of the Bruise Brothers Yoyoy Villamin scored his personal-best 44 points in Alaska’s 135-122 overtime victory on July 14. Allan Caidic had the season’s highest output of 49 points and break his previous record for most three-point shots made by hitting nine triples in Great Taste’ 143-114 semifinals win on August 23. Incidentally, Great Taste forward Abe King’s first game of the season upon returning to the States was against Alaska on July 28 where the Milkmasters won, 112-108.

Three years later in the second and third conferences of the 1991 PBA season, the CFC franchise unveil another milk product and wear the green and white jersey of Tivoli Full Cream Milk, which I believe didn’t last long in the market. Alaska has the edge over the Tivoli Milkmasters, five wins to three, just as three year before in 1988, it was also five to three for Alaska over Great Taste Instant Milk.

Pepsi vs Pop Cola / Diet Sarsi (1990-1991)

The Softdrinks battle (though there was the least remembered Royal vs 7-Up in the 1970s), Pepsi was better than Pop Cola in the Cola War as their only two victories in their inaugural season in 1990 was against the fellow expansion team. When Cosmos decided for a different taste in Sarsi, the Sizzlers finally beat the Hotshots, 131-126, in the Third Conference.

In four meetings in the 1991 PBA season, Diet Sarsi won all their games against Pepsi and the scores were heartbreaks for the Hotshots, 132-130, 101-100 with Pepsi import Lanard Copeland missing the second of his two free throws with no time left, 98-96 in the opening game of the All-Filipino Conference where Sarsi trailed by 15 points at the start of the fourth period but won on Jack Tanuan’s tip-in with three seconds to go and Pepsi center Manny Victorino missing a free throw with a second left, and 108-106.

Purefoods vs Swift (1991-1992, 1993-1994)

The most popular of all the corporate rivalries in the PBA, after a second place finish by Diet Sarsi behind Purefoods in the 1991 All-Filipino, a corporate decision come out by RFM to introduce it’s new product, Swift Mighty Meaty Hotdogs, with the intention of matching the Purefoods Tender Juicy monicker.

Swift with the Mighty Meaty monicker in their jersey, won their only meeting with Purefoods in the 1991 Third Conference, 115-98 on October 6. The following year, Purefoods got the better of their first two matches, 106-90 in the pre-season PBA-China series and 131-128 double-overtime victory on February 13. Swift decided to drop the Mighty Meaty tag in their uniform as misfortunes seems to hound the team in the crucial stages of the eliminations. The simple and circle Swift logo brought in some good luck and the Mighty Meaties escaped with two victories over Purefoods, 115-114 on March 19 and 123-117 in a playoff for the last semis berth on March 26.

The Swift brand has the edge overall in seven out of the 10 conferences, winning 14 to 6. They were 9-0 over the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs in the third conference from 1992-1994, seven of those nine wins were due to the exploits of the hurricane Tony Harris.


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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Philippine Basketball Association


PBA imports who played a minimum of 5 games but were replaced

Remembering these 8 PBA imports during the last three import-laden conference of the 1980s era who played a minimum of five games and were original reinforcements of their team before being replaced and never had a second tour of duty.

1988 Reinforced Conference

Kevin Gamble (1 win, 4 loss for Anejo) – A lot of PBA pundits felt he wasn’t a bad player. Gamble was cut by Anejo Rum 65 after averaging 38 points in five games. He was the hero in Anejo’s only win during that period, scoring 14 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as the 65ers beat Purefoods, 117-112 on October 11. Gamble’s heroics weren’t enough to convince playing-coach Sonny Jaworski to retain his services. He could have already been released if not for Jamie Waller’s decision to flew back home. Despite knowing he was on his way out, Gamble suited up in his last game against Shell and tossed in 34 points in Anejo’s 132-143 loss to the Diesel Oilers, who spoiled the debut of new Anejo import Tommy Davis.

George Almones (4 wins, 2 loss for Presto) – The late Almones average 21 points per game after the first round of eliminations. He suffered a hamstring injury and played only for five seconds against Anejo on October 13. He scored 45 points in his farewell game against Anejo on October 20, a 143-130 Presto victory. The decision to let go of Almones in favor of Tony White was a painful one for coach Baby Dalupan, who felt Almones played exceptionally well. He was already considered in the third conference last year by Presto (then Great Taste), along with Ray Hall, to be their import.

Eddie Cox (3 wins, 2 loss for Alaska) – Cox averaged 27 points and 8.6 rebounds in five games he played. But it was evident that Alaska would have a much better chance with a bigger import to help out Willie Bland than the smaller Cox, who finished third in the slam dunk competition in the PBA/IBA series. His replacement was the stocky David Boone.

Ray Hall (No win, 5 loss for Purefoods)- Sugar Ray Hall, the MVP of the first PBA-IBA series a year ago, scored 46, 31 and 45 points in Purefoods’ first three games but the Hotdogs’ usual winning ways was lost. He was the lone import that went up against Billy Ray Bates and Kevin Gamble of Anejo as his partner Tim McCalister refused to show up upon learning of a replacement on the way. In Purefoods’ last game in the first round of eliminations against Alaska, the Ray Hall-Perry Young tandem seems to be perfect already but Hall fractured his wrist and with him hurting and Young fouling out, the Hotdogs blew a 16-point lead and lost to the Milkmen by six, 97-103 on October 16.

1989 Open Conference

Carl Lott (2 win, 4 loss for Alaska) – Lott was a dismal failure in their opening game against Presto on March 5, scoring a miserable 16 points, a disappointing 11 points followed in a 104-107 cliffhanger loss to Purefoods. In his third and fourth game, Lott improved his output by tossing in 32 and 33 points but Alaska still lost to San Miguel and Shell in overtime. The Airmen finally scored their first win in a 105-104 squeaker against Anejo and Lott scored only 14 points. He had his personal-best of 40 points in his final PBA game as Alaska won for the second straight time, a 131-129 victory over Purefoods. His supposed earlier replacement by the name of Tom Sewell was measured 6-3 3/8. The maximum height of the imports in the conference was 6-3. Carl Lott was the last of the Alaska imports before the Tim Cone era as he was under coach Bogs Adornado. He was replaced by Sean Chambers.

Jimmy McClain (2 win, 3 loss for Purefoods) – He was already considered obscure when he came here. But McClain, one of the two in this listings, along with Cox to have never been drafted in the NBA, is not that bad of a player. He has a decent medium-range and outside jumper. McClain banged in 48 points in his debut in the Hotdogs’ losing cause against Shell. He led Purefoods in scoring in the other four games he played with 34, 49, 40 and 35. McClain’s problem is he’s just too lean to create waves in the PBA.

1989 Reinforced Conference

Keith Smart (3 win, 2 loss for San Miguel) – Smart was a big flop in his first game and the Beermen were routed by Purefoods. He finished with 27 points on a atrocious 10 of 35 field goal shooting and was hardly a factor in defense. In his second game against Anejo, the Beermen had a chance to tie the score with less than 20 seconds remaining but Smart flubbed a layup that could have sent the game into overtime. Smart improved a bit in his next three games, leading San Miguel to all victories, even scoring the winning three-point play against Presto with five seconds remaining in a 139-136 win on October 15. Still, SMB coach Norman Black made the smartest move by replacing Smart with NBA journeyman Ennis Whatley.

Steve Burtt (1 win, 4 loss for Shell) – Burtt was released because of injuries. He was averaging 45.25 points per game with a high of 57 when he reportedly suffered from a hamstring injury. Shell was forced to use a no-choice replacement in Andy Grosvenor, a cousin of Dexter Shouse whose main purpose was to pace Purefoods’ Shouse during practices. Burtt scored 50 points in his last PBA game on October 15 against Anejo Rum where Carlos Briggs became only the fifth man in PBA history to pass the 80-point mark in Anejo’s 135-132 thriller over Shell.

There have been a lot more during the decade and most notable of those imports were Arnold Dugger (1982, six games) and Kevin Porter (1983, eight games) of Toyota, Doug Harris of Manila Beer (1985, seven games), the pair of Johnny Brown and Eric Turner of Great Taste (1986, six games), and Jeff Taylor of Great Taste (1987, five games).

References: Atlas Sports Weekly October 14-21, October 28-November 4 & November 4-11, 1988 issue, Champ Magazine dated March 28 & October 31, 1989, Sports Flash dated October 5-11 & October 12-18, 1989, Sports Eye March 16-22, 1989 issue.

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Posted by on August 30, 2018 in Philippine Basketball Association