Sunday, January 11, 1976

Crispa-Floro, Team of the Year (Jan. 11, 1976)

The Philippine Panorama took a closer look at the Crispa Redmanizers after beating the Toyota Comets in the 1975 PBA All-Philippine Championship. The Sunday weekly magazine of Bulletin Today even mentioned the Redmanizers as the Team of the Year for capturing the most important title of the PBA’s inaugural season.

We’re No. 1

By Chelo Banal
Philippine Panorama
Published Sunday January 11, 1976

THERE’S jubilation now in the Crispa quarters as there should be when a team feels vindicated. Twice the Crispa boys were close to it but didn’t make it. Finally the pieces fit, the poem rhymed and they took the PBA All-Philippine championship title.

Never mind the bruises - they’ll heal in time - and the fines - it’s only money - and Philip Cezar’s suspension - he’ll only miss half the ‘76-PBA’s first conference. For the moment the Redmanizers are ready to paint the town red.

Don Pablo Floro is holding small brown envelopes containing cash bonus for each player. As the Redmanizers break into wide smiles for their souvenir team photos, he says, “Ang sinasabi ko lang sa inyo ay maging loyal kayo sa team.” He takes a puff at his cigar and then distributes the envelopes while the boys cheer wildly.

Apart from the reward from the old man, there’s a trip to either Europe or the United States courtesy of his son Danny, the team’s manager-owner. Father and son are no doubt Crispa’s victory in pro basketball as one awaited his first-born.

Crispa coach Baby Dalupan is no different. He wanted a PBA championship very badly so he tried everything. Bless him. Every now and then he pitted his Filipino centers against Silverio’s almighty Americans and luckily the formula worked. What a glorious sight it was for an all-Pinoy five to edge out a quintet backed by the most dependable imports in the entire pro league. But Dalupan is quick to add that more than his tactics, the concern that the Floros showed during the third conference helped his boys a great deal.

The Redmanizers were quartered for nine days at Frederick hotel and it cost the Floros a smacking good P25,000, which didn’t include expenses incurred by Danny for taking the boys out to lunch “put for togetherness, didn’t talk about the game.”

Day following a game, the coach and the manager would sit down with the players to watch video tapes of past games, followed by an open discussion on errors and good performances in the play.

Don Pablo and his eldest son Ernesto gave pep talks during their dinner meetings. Old man Floro would even call the boys and before they retired at night to boost their morale, recalls Danny. He was so enthusiastic the boys couldn’t just break his heart.

They’d rather they broke their heads or their limbs than lose the deciding game. Rocha, Clarino, and the Reynoso brothers, tagged as the bad boys of basketball by even the most avid of Toyota fans, gave the Crispa boys the “business” but Crispa’s victory was beyond control. In the end even the Redmanizers, including the usually tame Adornado, were also using more brawn to hit the opponents than the basket.

Danny Floro recalls that in the entire season of the PBA, whenever trouble erupted within the court, the Crispa players stayed in their bench while the Toyota boys rushed inside. He says he kept reminding his boys that they could be suspended if they joined the melees. “Ngayong huli na lang pumasok ang mga Crispa players, masyadong agrabyado na kasi,” he explains.

“The only player I have,” adds Dalupan. “who will fight to defend himself or his co-players in the team is Soriano. I suppose he thought it his duty since he as captain ball. He only gave up the position to Adornado before the third conference perhaps to break the jinx. My boys couldn’t play their best dahil takot. Kasi pag pinagtulungan na wala man lang ka team na sasaklolo. BUt the third conference became a different story. No coach or manager should tolerate a violent player in his team but at that particular moment, when a player is so fired up in the game and he is hit by an opponent, anong magagawa ng coach magkagulo.” Even the can’t be blamed.”

Poor sportsmanship during the last pro game resulted on the part of Crispa in the suspension for four-and-a-half months and a fine of P1,000 for Cezar, one of the team’s best acquisitions from its MICAA days, a fine of P500 for Soriano, a Crispa dependable, and a fine of P10,000 for the team, which is still under request for consideration, according to Danny.

Floro’s basketball squad started getting into trouble when it got caught in a crowd-drawing rivalry with Silverio’s Comets in the pro league. The second conference pennant was within its shooting distance when Floro questioned the tournament’s system of picking the referees and refused to play until the oversight was corrected. What happened next was that Crispa lost the fourth game by default, not to mention the title, and the team was fined P50,000. “it’s still up to Dante if we’re paying that amount,” says Floro. Silverio had been generous in victory and hadn’t discussed it while the third conference was going on.

No matter the penalties, Floro seems to be happy in pro basketball. Times have changed indeed since “I was in the bleacher crowd, watching Badion play for Jacinto rubber shoes.”

As early as 1955 he formed an amateur basketball team that played from town to town in Rizal. In ‘56 he decided to join the Businessman’s Athletic Association (BAA). The Crispa team became the league’s champion for two consecutive years. Into the MICAA and big-time basketball it went in ‘58 but Dalupan didn’t join in until 1960. Six years later, Floro decided to withdraw temporarily from the tournaments (“halasa”) but the next year, “’67 he partcipated again so as not to lose his membership. “Maski sino pinalaro ko nanghiram pa ako sa PAL. Wala kaming tinalo,” he remembers.

“Pinasok ang mga UE boys noong 1969,” adds Dalupan. “They asked me to coach Crispa again and I said yes on condition that I was going to use my UE players.” Floro recalls that Crispa placed second that year and became champion the following year.

All Crispa’s 15 years, since its MICAA involvement, Floro missed only three Crispa games, once became he was in the hospital and the two occasions because he was abroad. He cares that much, he says and there’s good enough reason to do so. Having a basketball team means goodwill from and towards the Floro companies, which include Floro Cement Corporation, Floro Textiles, P. Floro and Sons, and the Crispa department stores in Makati, Ermita and Dasmarinas.

“Other companies are riding high on our publicity and advertisements  because they have the same name as ours, Floro,” complais Danny, who is vice president for manufacturing in their textile business.

In 15 years, he has been to a Crispa practice only three times. “It’s not my worry to attend the practice. Baka sabihin ng coach binabantayan siya.”

Baby Dalupan, after all,  is no instant coach. He came to Crispa with championship-studded years of experience at the University of the East where he still is head of the Physical Education department. Baby is local cagedom’s Pygmalion. He forms a boy into a physical player but more than that, he breathes fire and wind into him. Picking someone from nowhere who has potentials is more is style than pirating a star from another team. Indeed, many players have rolled into and out of the Crispa team like basketballs. Mariano, Florencio, Papa, Kutch, Alcantara, Abarrientos, de Leon, Ijares, Vallejo, Rojas, Jaworski, among others, are ex-Crispans who are now big shots in their respective teams in the PBA.

Dalupan’s plays are marvelous, hurricanes that destroy a slow-paced opposing team. Crispa storms into the court with speed and skill, a combination that is difficult to match. There’s not a team hereabouts that’s more solid than Crispa and even their arch-rivals, the Comets admit that individually the Redmanizers are A-one players.

Philip Cezar stretches and jumps like no other Pinoy player and gave Toyota’s Snake Jones a hell of a time at the backboards, together with Crispa’s imported center Pete Crotty or Johnny Burks. Willie Adornado is a consistent scorer and hold’s the PBA’s record in highest point average. Rey Franco, Crispin Calilan and Alfredo Hubalde more than make up for their lack in height with effective dash and ballhandling. Abet Guidaben, Rudy Soriano, Virgilio de la Cruz, Bernard Fabiosa and Atoy Co are all-around in the trade.

No wonder the Seven-Up All-Filipino Sports award for the team of the year went to Crispa. Some people are saying it shouldn’t be so because the Redmanizers only won the third conference while the Comets got both the first and second conference titles. But there’s more to the third conference that meets the eye.

To explain: the PBA is like the NCAA in that it has two rounds to determine which teams qualify in the final championship round. “The only difference,” Floro points out, “in that the PBA gives away trophies for winners of the first and second conferences while the NCAA doesn’t.”

The trophy after every conference is to add glamor to the tournaments, says Dalupan. “I suggested it because otherwise, hindi manonood ang tao, sasabihin elimination rounds pa lang naman. A trophy also makes the teams play harder. It’s something to fight for.”

Fight his boys did and it was good basketball, still, despite the flying elbows and flying kicks marring the court drama witnessed by screaming, crying, betting fans who packed the coliseum to the roof.

“We’re no. 1,” the Redmanizers proclaim as they pose for magazone and newspaper and calendar photographers. Back at the Crispa quarters, there’s jubilation now. And a string of tv appearances to boot. And a wedding (Abet Guidaben’s) to reunite the Redmanizers once more off the basketball arena. But it is as their union in the hardcourt that they have strength. 

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