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 Three. Part Four will be out this Thursday.
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 fora and social media topics.
Welcome to Part III of this four-part special. In Part Two, we traveled to the mid-'80s to see the rise of the likes of Captain Lionheart and the Tower of Power and the beginning of the Ginebra lore. This time, we'll start at the decade which is often the focus of today's #Throwback articles and end just after the great Y2K scare. The '90s and early-'00s were certainly memorable times, especially in hoopslandia. Here are ten reasons why.
THE TRIGGERMAN'S 79-POINT SHOOTING
Video via Czar Julius
Date: November 21, 1991
With his prodigious scoring exploits in the amateurs, Allan Caidic was touted to be the next great scorer in the PBA. When he made his debut with Great Taste in 1987, Caidic began to expand to his legend by making the Mythical Five in his rookie year and being the first ever rookie to lead the league in scoring.
In 1989, he set the record for the most points scored by a local with 68 (before Paul Alvarez broke it with 71). The next season he set the record for the most triples in a season (160) by a local. The following campaign, he broke the league’s record for career triples.
But the best was yet to come. On November 21, 1991, in a match he was not supposed to play in owing to his wife giving birth that night, the Triggerman scored 79 points (a league record that stands to this day) and added a few more records on his own (most points in a half with 53 and in a quarter with 37 and most triples made in a quarter with eight). Caidic could have scored a 100 had he not checked into the game late in the first quarter and not left the match in the middle of the fourth period. Presto (the re-branded Great Taste squad) won 162-149. #Legend
THE ALASKA DYNASTY
Image via Interaksyon.com
Year started: 1991
Following exploits of the national team during the 1991 Asian Games, the Alaska Milkmen and Aces dominated the PBA scene while running the triangle offense of the Chicago Bulls that made them successful in the NBA. With Tim Cone masterminding Alaska’s game, they racked up nine PBA conference championships while stopping teams like a resurgent Ginebra and a powerhouse Purefoods squad. The greatest achievement of this dynasty would come in 1996 when the team won all three conference for a rare Grand Slam.
As the Alaska dynasty splintered, some its players and assistant coaches moved to Coca Cola where they won a bunch of titles. Tim Cone then took his act to B-Meg/San Mig Coffee/Purefoods Star Hotshots, transforming the team into one of the best in league history. Under the SMC umbrella he has not only overtaken Baby Dalupan as the PBA’s all-time winningest coach but also achieved another Grand Slam and four straight titles.
Said one of his former players on San Mig Coffee who just moved to another squad and has been able to compare his new system to the old, “Iba magpa-train si Coach Tim. Ang layo. Dito kailangan ko pa magkusa gumawa ng extra work.”