The Daily Express broke down Crispa's title victory over Toyota in the 1976 PBA All-Filipino Conference finals in what became a turning point in the classic duel between the two archrivals.
All that mattered for Crispa was to win
By Ernesto Gonzales
Philippines Daily Express
Published Tuesday July 13, 1976
IN THE FABLED Crispa-Toyota rivalry, dyed-in-the-wool Crispans will never forget the last 12 minutes of Sunday's classic.
It was the stretch the Redmanizers almost bungled a 19-point lead that could have changed the fortunes of the series.
Coach Baby Dalupan just about summed up the Redmanizers' last-quarter plight: “With an almost insurmountable lead, the idea of a crown conquest danced in their heads. Their concentration was distracted. And when Toyota mounted a rally, they panicked.”
It was not really an ideal way to clinch a championship match. But this was a victory against Toyota and no matter how the final game was decided, Crispa's title march was nothing short of spectacular.
The deciding triumph for Crispa came via a hair-raising 101-100 decision last Sunday, giving the Redmanizers a 3-1 slate in a best-of-five series for the All-Filipino Conference championship of the Philippine Basketball Association.
Crispa could have wrapped up the title in grand fashion but in one of the many quirks and twists that had spiced up its previous flaming duels with Toyota, the Redmanizers suddenly sputtered even as the Comets came alive and the game went down the wire in epic fashion
SEEMINGLY beyond recall at 86-67 late in the third quarter, the Redmanizers, held to a record low of 10 points in the last quarter, found themselves suddenly on top by only two, 97-95. And with their nerves all shot up in the face of a searing Toyota rally, the stood in danger of having to go through an extension.
But the breaks of the game swung in Crispa's favor. Ramon Fernandez, who could have thrown the match into overtime by putting in two free throws with eight seconds left, flubbed his first attempt, in the process dashing all Toyota hopes of a chance of forcing a rubber match.
“It was fortunate we led by a big margin early. The boys panicked, but luck was still with us,” said coach Dalupan.
NO MATTER what, it was the first time that Crispa had beaten Toyota three straight times in a title series. It was all the more lustrous considering that Crispa's first two triumphs came with the Redmanizers only down to eight men.
Now Crispa has the same number of titles as Toyota in the Philippine Basketball Association. The Comets won the first two conferences while the Redmanizers bagged their first title in the All-Philippine Championship late last year.
And to top it all, the Redmanizers can now again lay sole claim to the title as the top All-Filipino club in the land.
OF THE REDMANIZERS, none will probably cherish Sunday's fight more than William Adornado, who took advantage of the occasion to become the first PBA player to reach the 2,000-point career mark. His 24 for the night gave him 2,011 points so far.
The breaks that pulled down Toyota came in heaps. The Comets just could not sink their free throws, with Francis Arnaiz at one time missing six charities in a row. Then Robert Jaworski, after putting on another superb all-court show, ran into offensive errors at the height of Toyota's rally and later fouled out.
“But I could not ask for more,” said Toyota coach Dante Silverio. “The crowd came to see a good game and we gave them a good game.”
The score in their sizzling private war is still 15-14 in favor of Toyota, but the Comets are in danger of being overtaken since Crispa has made it sure that they have an ace import to speak of when the second conference starts Aug. 8.
AGAINST Toyota's Snake Jones, Crispa will now field Cyrus Mann, the 6-foot-10 center who played for Brazilian Palmeiras sqad here early this year.
Jones, who arrived Saturday, brought along 6-8 Howard Smith, his former teammate from the University of San Francisco, while Mann will have Daryl Davis, also 6-8, as backup.
Reports said that Mann is scheduled to join the NBA champion Boston Celtics in 1977 and this credential is one big reason why Crispa now looks forward to sweeping all the succeeding conferences this year.