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News  


OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Revive the old Crispa-Toyota rivalry


PhilBoxing.com


Thirty five years following the disbandment of Crispa and Toyota, principal actors in the bitterest rivalry in the Philippine Basketball Association, the country’s and Asia’s first professional basketball league has been in need of teams that can provide the “dog eat dog” kind of animosity the Redmanizers and the Comets dished out in their 10-year battle for supremacy in the sport their countrymen learned to love most.

Players of both teams remained under the aegis of the league for sometime, but the animosity and enmity among them that made the league what it is today or what it was for several years after the Crispa-Toyota feud had all gone although fans interest shifted to Ginebra San Miguel, simply because its head, former Toyotan himself Robert “Sonny” Jaworski or “Jawo” or “Big J” or whatever had invented the “do or die” attitude other teams have been trying emulate.


Yes, Alaska Milk, San Miguel Beer and, as of late, San Mig Coffee of Purefoods duplicated Crispa’s Grand Slam feat, but, there weren’t hardly any opposition when they fashioned these out. Why, they didn’t even overshadowed the “never-say-die” kind of play Jaworski had injected to the shoot-and-dribble sport.

Admit it or not, the Gin Kings’ popularity looks waning, judging from the gate attendances in their games even before this 43rd season of the PBA unfolded middle of last month. The bleacher sections in venues where games are held, where members of Barangay Ginebra say, are almost empty. Cries of “Ginebra …. Ginebra …. Ginebra ….are seldom heard during games nowadays.

“Wala na kasing magagandang laro,” Mang Kiko, this outsiders’ taxi-driver suki, who used to frequent PBA games asserted. “Yung anim na team, magkaka-kampi at mukhang nagbibigayan kapag kailangan nang isa na manalo. Walang masyadong kalaban,” he observed in reference to the franchises owned by San Miguel Corp. and the MVP Group.

Mang Kiko confessed he no longer watch the game as before. “Unang-una, mahal na ang tiket at malalayo ang venue. Madalas, di namin alam kung saan ang laro. And mga player ng Ginebra, di na namin makausap. Mga Fil-Am kasi at inglesan nang inglesan. Di gaya nung araw, sina Jawo, kahit saan kami Makita, niyayakap kami. Kinukumusta.”

Mang Kiko’s and those of his peers’ wish of seeing the Crispa-Toyota rivalry of old relived looked to be shaping up though. An intense rivalry, in fact, is developing between, who else, but sister teams San Miguel Beer and Ginebra San Miguel.

The Beermen, it can be remembered, beat the Gin Kings in last year’s final of the Philippine Cup. The boys of coach Tim Cone returned the compliment two conferences later by ousting coach Leo Austria’s chargers in the quarterfinal round of the Governors’ Cup, in the process eliminating, too, SMB from winning the franchise’s second Grand Slam and becoming the only the second team in PBA’s history outside of Crispa to accomplish the feat.

The Beermen and the Kings are again locking horns in the semifinals of the on-going All-Filipino and gauging with the way Austria’s boys manhandled Cone’s boys, it seemed there really has no love lost between the two sides.

Another development that might change Mang Kiko’s perception is the entry of NLEX, the only team of the MVP Group to have done so, in the Final Four, the first time Road Warriors of coach Yeng Guiao succeeded since acquiring a franchise four years ago.

I just hope, I didn’t speak too soon. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata!


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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