Not even the warning signs of a fortune teller and an injury to Bogs Adornado hampered the Crispa Redmanizers' march to the 1976 PBA Second Conference crown.
How Crispa did it
By Ding Marcelo
Published Saturday November 20, 1976
The omen was bad in Crispa's bid for its third straight Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) championship.
Team manager Danny Floro, whose consultations with fortune tellers and some other not-so-divine characters prior to each championship series carry the weight of grim finality, was shaking his head after emerging in one such session during his team's sojourn in Cebu two weeks ago in the PBA semifinals.
“Wala, hindi raw kami magtsa-tsampyon,” he said with grief written in his face. According to Floro, the fortune teller, obviously with a Visayan accent, had warned him that some of his players would be out to sabotage his bid for a third straight crown.
A spinster aunt likewise had the same premonition. This aunt of Floro, who seldom intrudes into the athletic affairs of his nephew, reportedly broke precedent, sent a note to Danny and similarly warned him of some dark things to happen. But the same aunt said at the end of the note that she would try to neutralize things with heavy prayers.
“Kukunin na lang daw sa dasal,” said Danny as his team set forth to get the championship.
Coach Baby Dalupan had other plans, however. In a pre-game talk with his boys, he told them the the championship series would be dedicated to William Adornado, the one-time Crispa scoring machine who at that moment was contemplating his basketball future in a lonely hospital room.
“Mangiyak-ngiyak kaming lahat,” recalled Fortunato Co, Jr., whose heroics had made him a shoo-in to fill the vacuum of Adornado's temporary retirement. “Isipin mo,” he said, “dedicated kay Bogs na nagbigay sa amin ng dalawang championship, di siempre pag-iigihan mo.”
The first two games subsequently won by Crispa in the best-of-five series, were, in the words of Cyrus Mann, the Redmanizers' star import, “Very tough, very tough.” If anything, according to Mann, Crispa's game against U-Tex in Cebu which the Redmanizers won by only two points, could compare with the games' near-brutal struggle.
Crispa prepared itself for an unprecedented three-game sweep. Dalupan took his customary nap in the afternoon of Tuesday and then went to the pre-game huddle to inform the boys of the historic nature of the match.
“Fight, fight tayong lahat,” was the booming call that emanated from the Crispa dugout.
But it was not to be so. Dalupan, who early this year had guided his champion Ateneo Blue Eagles team to just within a game of sweeping both the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, again lost out the crucial third game, 108-98, thus denying the Redmanizers a rare 3-0 sweep of the best-of-five series.
Bogs Adornado was informed before hand that the game was dedicated to him and that he should be around to receive the trophy being the Crispa team captain.
“Wala, nahiya siguro,” said Danny Floro who said everything is being done to reactivate the Crispa star.
Floro said he does not allow himself to be operated know whether Adornado will upon. “The decision will be his,” he said, “but at the moment he is undergoing regular therapy at a Quezon City hospital.”
Bogs injured his right knee during the Crispa-U-Tex second round game, missed 10 games thereafter, and finally decided to play again during his team's last semifinal game with Toyota. He lasted only five seconds as he reinjured the knee.
“Winning, ah, nothing like it,” said Floro moments after his team defeated Toyota, 103-94, for the clinching Thursday night before some 30,000 spectators.
Asked what happened to the fortune-teller's warning, Floro said. “Wala, nakuha siguro sa dasal.”
A grandslam was what he ask of his boys as the Redmanizers took a week-long rest before they plunge anew in another battle, this time for the All-Philippine title which they are defending against Toyota, U-Tex, Royal Tru-Orange and Noritake.
“A trip to Europe might be a nice gift to the boys,” Floro said but quickly added, “If they win the third conference.”