The PBA is now on its 40th season. Let that sink in for a bit. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the key moments that made the league a part of Pinoy life and culture, yes?
Editor's note: Because the PBA is already on its 40th season this year, we decided to write a four-part series of articles celebrating Asia's first play-for-play league with a run-down of its most memorable moments in history, chronologically arranged for your convenience. This is Part One. Part Two will be out this Sunday.
Forty. Who would have thought that the Philippine Basketball Association would not only be alive and kicking in this day and age but also remain as patok as ever. It wasn’t too long ago that the departure of teams and key superstars, the creation of a rival league and the inflated salaries had naysayers and haters predicting the PBA's doom. Now the league's 40th season is upon us, and it opened to a record-setting, mind-boggling, utterly-satisfying crowd of over 52,000 that ushered another season of kampihan.
We'll say it again: the PBA is now on its 40th season. Let that sink in for a bit. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the key moments that made the league part and parcel of Pinoy life, water cooler chat, and social media topics.
This is Part One. Here we'll talk about the PBA's earliest days. Cue Morgan Freeman's epic voice saying, "In the beginning..."
Image via Ginoo Magazine
Our own version of the NBA! And the oldest professional league outside the continental United States! When nine clubs bolted the old Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association and shook free from the grip of the heavy-fisted Basketball Association of the Philippines, one wondered if the league was going to survive. After the PBA’s first ever points were scored, the game and the league was on for better or worse. In fact, survival was a large theme in those early years as clubs came and went. Thankfully, it received a massive dose of popularity and following because of the next items in this list.
THE FIRST GAME
Image via Pinoyexchange.com
While April 9 is celebrated as Araw ng Kagitingan. In Philippine sports, it was the date when the PBA opened its doors to the public when Mariwasa Noritake Porcelain Makers took on Concepcion Carriers (U-Tex battled Toyota in the main game). It also proved the Basketball Association of the Philippines wrong that the new league would wither away.
In fact, some 18,000 people trooped to the Araneta coliseum to watch Mariwasa Noritake beat Concepcion Carrier, 101-98, and Toyota squeak past U-Tex, 105-101. American import Israel “Cisco” Oliver, he of the old Alaska Milk commercial fame, topscored for the winning Noritake team with 48 points. Jimmy Noblezada led Carrier with 24 points. Though on the losing side, Joy Dionisio, a 5-10 guard, carved his name in the PBA record books as the first player ever to score a field goal in the league.
THE CRISPA-TOYOTA RIVALRY
Video via Basketbola80.com
Year started: 1975
Think Boston-Los Angeles of the PBA. This rivalry was heated and led to fights and to an intense dislike and contempt among rival fans. This was the true Manila Classico. If you rooted for one then you hated the fan of the other team with a passion. Lines were drawn. Families were split. Even college coaches and teams were split across the line. Case in point: Baby Dalupan coached the Crispa Redmanizers while his prized center at the University of the East was the biggest star on Toyota. The two clubs traded places as the first 10 conference champions before U-Tex broke their stranglehold on titles and showed the PBA wasn’t a two-horse race any longer.
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