Cyrus Mann's jumper late allowed Crispa to repeat over Toyota and force their 1976 PBA All-Philippine Championship title series to a rubber match.
Crispa squares series
Wranglers place third
By Ding Marcelo
Published Monday, December 20, 1976
Crispa, still seething with vengeance, took the measure of Toyota anew last night, pounding out a close 104-103 win in a bruising, tempestous encounter that sent their championship series to a fifth and deciding game tomorrow for the All-Philippine crown of the Philippine Basketball Association at the Araneta Coliseum.
A jumper by Cyrus Mann with 30 seconds left provided the Redmanizers the difference in the pulse-pounding contest after the Tamaraws had uncorked a desperate rally in the last two minutes that saw them outshot the victors, 12-2, from 102-91 down to narrow the gap at what it was at end.
Elbows and at times, even fists, flew in wild abandon and tempers were hard to contain in this fourth meeting between the two clubs. But the Tamaraws appeared more on the verge of losing their cool.
Francis Arnaiz, hero of Toyota's first two victories, unleashed what looked like an intentional kick on Bernard Fabiosa during the dying minutes of the game in full view of some 22,000 spectators.
No infraction was called although the crowd almost rose as one in raising a collective protest before Fabiosa himself signalled his teammates to remain calm in the face of what he later termed in the dugout as Toyota's “desperate moves.”
The Redmanizers' victory came after U-Tex had third place with a clinching 133-117 win over Noritake in the fourth game of their own best-of-five series.
A commanding 36-23 lead in the first quarter sent Narciso Bernardo's boys off to their third win in the series. Six Wranglers, led by Lim Eng Beng who scored 22 points, hit in double figures.
The Porcelain-makers, whose only win came in the second game, were led by Billy Robinson and James Cornelious who combined for 53 points.
A swirling, double-teaming defense that jelled in the last two quarters were the key to Crispa's sudden contention for the crown as they took the lead for the first time at 55-53, never to look back again.
Fortunato Co, Jr., sizzling hot all evening, and the overworked Mann gave Crispa some of its finest moments, although heroics by a rejuvenated Rodolfo Soriano, Fabiosa and Alberto Guidaben many times pulled the Redmanizers away from the relentlessly threatening Tamaraws. Co led all scorers with 25 points.
The Redmanizers, led by 14, their biggest, 89-75, at the start of the fourth period with Co hitting two straight baskets and Mann and Philip Cezar adding four in an 8-2 binge that all but broke the backs of Toyota whose bid was again hampered by fouls that particularly hit Byron “Snake” Jones who had five with still 11 minutes left.
Now Crispa is all even with Toyota at two wins apiece and has dramatically moved from underdog to favorite when the Redmanizers clash with the Tamaraws in the lone game tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
Crispa, thus, stands on the threshold of becoming the first team to sweep all PBA titles in one season. A victory will also mark the only instance that a team came from behind a 0-2 deficit in a championship series to win a crown.
A win by Toyota, however, will deny Crispa of a rare sweep while at the same time give the Tamaraws the only title that has eluded them in the PBA.
“The boys were all fired up,” said Coach Baby Dalupan of Crispa.
Mann, on the other hand, said it was the defense, particularly in the second half that did it. “We came back strong in the defense in the last two quarters. They (the Tamaraws) were forced to shoot outside and this allowed me to concentrate on my man,” he added.
Crispa – 104
P. Cezar 11
Toyota – 103
Fouled out: Cezar
Crispa 23 23 35 23 – 104
Toyota 28 22 23 30 – 103
Refs: I. Cahanding, J. Obias