Francis Arnaiz rescued Toyota from the jaws of defeats to stun Crispa and take a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series for the 1976 PBA All-Philippine Championship. Toyota won despite losing three players because of six personal fouls.
Toyota shades Crispa, 118-117
By Ding Marcelo
Published Wednesday December 15, 1976
Toyota's sparkling Tamaraws, displaying nerves of steel in the face of tremendous pressure, overhauled a five-point deficit in the last two minutes last night to subdue the Crispa Redmanizers in overtime, 118-117, that moved them to within a game of clinching the Philippine Basketball Association's All-Philippine Championship.
Francis Arnaiz, epitomizing all that is best in the Tamaraws, banged in his team's last six points as he performed with amazing efficiency, razing an imposing 115-110 Crispa spread and insuring the Toyota victory with a clinching drive in the last five seconds that propelled Toyota on top, 118-115.
No other match between these titans of professional basketball has evoked so much sweat, produced so much animosity as last night's.
Making the Toyota victory sweeter and at the same time doubly bitter for Crispa was the fact that four Tamaraws fouled out just before the extension, including Ramon Fernandez, Rodolfo Segura and a fine playing Gil Cortez who all fouled out in succession.
Crispa coach Baby Dalupan will probably never live down the ignomity of having to lose so vital a contest, his team ahead at so crucial a point only to fall down like a deck of cards.
Consecutive errors by the Redmanizers, one by the mercurial Fortunato Co, Jr., who stepped on the line, and the other a 25-second violation with 40 ticks left, gave the Tamaraws the lift that finally moved them ahead as Arnaiz scored on both occasions.
The Tamaraws themselves earlier were the victims of their own carelessness as they blew up a six-point spread, 106-100, with 90 seconds left during regulation play that saw the clawing, fighting Redmanizers level at 106-all on a split of charities by Bernard Fabiosa that forged the extension.
Now, Toyota needs only to win tomorrow's third contest to deny Crispa a rare three-title sweep of the PBA season while scoring a never-before-achieved 3-0 sweep of a best-of-five series.
Odds are strong that the Tamaraws may just do it. The pressure is off, they have been playing extremely well and even if they don't score a sweep, they are almost certain to get the title as no team, in the brief history of the PBA, has come down from a 0-2 deficit to claim a title.
In an equally spine-tingling contest, the Noritake Porcelain-makers edged U-Tex, 134-129, in double overtime that evened up their own series for third place at one win apiece.
It was the only second double overtime in the PBA while the extension between Crispa and Toyota was the first in 40 meetings.
“At no time did we ever give up the contest,” remarked Toyota coach Dante Silverio after the game as his boys whopped it up inside the dressing room, almost unbelieving that they are ahead, 2-0 over Crispa who beat them decisively in three championship games.
He, however, was cautious in expressing too much overconfidence and added that “the game is not yet over. But we will try our best to win again.”
Coach Dalupan, on the other hand, was almost speechless at the dugout. He seemed struck by the sudden resurrection of Toyota in the dying minutes and repeatedly shook his head in disbelief. He had no comment about the game.
Crispa ominously moved ahead by three points, 111-108, early in the extension, coming on a blast by the overworked Cyrus Mann and another conversion ob a technical called on Byron “Snake” Jones, his second, for playing the zone defense, the first time such an offense was called in the league.
Toyota – 118
Crispa – 117
P. Cezar 21
Fouled out: Cortez, Segura, Acuna, Fernandez, Fabiosa, Soriano, Dionisio
Toyota 31 22 30 23 12 – 118
Crispa 21 24 32 27 11 – 117
Refs: J. Obias, R. Bartolome