Saturday, August 2, 1975

Column: The Comet Express

Bulletin Today sports editor Lito Fernandez reflected on Toyota' one-sided victory over Crispa in a column that was published two days after the title-clinching Game 4 of the 1975 PBA First Conference finals.

The Comet Express

By Lito Fernandez
Bulletin Today
Published Saturday August 2, 1975

Unbelievable is the word for Toyota's rout of Crispa-Floro in the decisive fourth game of their best-of-five series for the PBA first conference title Thursday night at the Araneta Coliseum. The Comets, who had led by as much as 28 points near the end of the one-sided contest, were up by 21 at the final buzzer.

It was the first time since Crispa rose to power in the late sixties that the Redmanizers lost by such a big margin in a championship game. It also marked the first time that Baby Dalupan's charges lost three in a row to the same team.

Dante Silverio's boys were favored to win, it's true but not by such a margin. After three very close games, who would expect Toyota to run away with the fourth game?

Some 30,000 fans at the Big Dome and thousands more watching the game on TV braced themselves for an exciting finish when the Redmanizers battled the Comets to a 25-all tie in the first quarter. They were still tuned up to the thrilling climax even when the Comets shot ahead by six points in the second quarter, 55-49.

Came the third quarter and the well-conditioned Comet Express, powered by Byron "Snake" Jones, began to roll with such force that the Redmanizers couldn't do anything to stop it. The Comets scored 35 points in this quarter as against Crispa's 24 for the commanding 90-73 lead with just 12 minutes left.

There was no stopping the Comets at this point and they went on to post their biggest lead, 114-86, which Comet coach Dante Silverio himself could not believe.

"We knew we would win," Silverio told reporters after the game. "but the margin was unbelievable."

Again it was the 6'8'' Jones who proved to be the big difference in the bone-jarring contest, which saw real hard physical contacts, particularly under the basket. (Two players - Reynaldo Franco of Crispa and Francis Arnaiz of Toyota - were thrown out in the fourth quarter for roughness.)

Jones, who intimidated the Redmanizers with his presence alone in the shaded area, controlled the boards anew and made a big dent in the Crispa defense with 20 points. That jacked up his total in the series to 77 points - an average of 19.25 points per game.

With the venomous Jones showing the way, the Comets were able to improve on their defense. They held the usually high-scoring Redmanizers to 395 points in four games for a 98.75-point clip per game - way off their league-leading average of 124.31 points per game.

With Rodolfo Segura finally hitting his stride, the Comets ran up a total of 417 points - an average of 104.25 ppg. Segura, the guy they said couldn't hit against the Redmanizers, was a revelation in the series, firing a total of 84 points (second only to Fortunato Co's 85) to lead all Toyota scorers with a 21-point average.

In fairness to the Redmanizers, they could have done much better had they played with a complete team. Johnny Revilla did not see action in the entire best-of-five series because of a team suspension slapped on him while 6'5'' Abet Guidaben missed the crucial fourth game because of a sprained right ankle.

To the Redmanizers' credit, they showed that they could beat the Comets even with Jones around (143-139 in the second round and 107-103 in the series opener). Indeed it was a great match-up between the country's top two teams until that fateful night when the Comet Express ran the Redmanizers off the court.

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