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 Four.
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.
Last time out, we took a look at the the Alaska dynasty, arrival (and shame) of the Fil-fors, and the mother of all reunion games, among others. This is the fourth and last part and here we'll travel beyond 2003 to the present a.k.a. the period that's freshest in our collective hoops memory. That's a decade's worth of basketball happenings which includes record-setters, the crowning of a new Grand Slam team, and that moment which will either make you question WTF is wrong with the league or proclaim that the Pacquiao fever is potentially the best thing that has ever happened to the PBA (depending on which side of the court you're on).
But before anything else, we'd like to thank you guys for being with us in this four-part journey through PBA history. Salamat, mga pre!
FROM THREE TO TWO
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In 2004, under former Commissioner Noli Eala, the league cut down the number of conferences from three to two to accommodate the international hoops calendar. The move also allowed greater focus on the PBA as the college leagues were played around it. But it won't be this way forever.
THE NBA ASIA CHALLENGE
Video via Prey Productions
Year started: 2009
While the NBA Asia Challenge, first started in 2009, meant to be a gauge on the possibility of the PBA’s North American cousins playing an exhibition match on Philippine soil, it also introduced homegrown talent to their people.
In the second-ever edition of the friendly match that saw the participation of PBA players, Allan Caidic, named one of the PBA’s All-Time Greatest Players stole the show from such luminaries as Chris Webber, Gary Payton, Glen Rice, and Mitch Richmond.
“It was all Trigger, Trigger, Trigger,” marveled Rice after the match where Caidic dropped 54 points including 14 triples to lead his Red Team to a 177-167 over the White Team.
“My best and worst memory of this game is the Triggerman. I hate that guy,” joked Chris Webber after the game.
...AND THEN BACK TO THREE
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