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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN | Meralco: From Reddy Kilowatts to Bolts


PhilBoxing.com



Meralco Bolts.

For the fourth time since Meralco acquired its PBA franchise in 2010, the Bolts are playing in the semifinal round of the on-going Philippine Cup bubble in the hope of making it anew to the Finals of the country’s first pay-for-pay league.

All media outfits covering the bubble have only been been reporting the already known facts that coach Norman Black’s Bolts were losing finalists to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel from 2017 as if to show that the Meralco franchise owned by the MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) Group is a ‘Johnny come lately’ in big time Philippine basketball scene.

It isn’t true!

Records in the local basketball history show that the Meralco Athletic Club could well be the oldest existing aggrupation that has been contributing to the growth of, not only basketball but other sports as well since the Americans arrived in the country in the early 1900s.

In basketball, the then known as the “Meralco Reddy Kilowatts” earned their first jewel when they crowned themselves national champions in 1932.

Meralco might not have seen action yet when basketball was first played here, incidentally by women in 1911 during the Manila Carnival Athletic meet, forerunner of the now defunct Interscholastics. The sport was then called “sissy’s game.”

The Meralco Athletic Club was already in the midst of things when the Manila Carnival management did away with the women’s play and introduced the game to Filipino boys few years later.

Teams existing then were the Manila Sporting Goods, University of the Philippines, Manila Interscholastic Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Meralco Athletic Club became a member of MICAA when what turned out to be the country’s premier amateur commercial league opened shop in 1968. The Reddy Kilowatts, coached by their second mentor Lauro Mumar, who succeeded Tito Eduque, won the 1971 edition, beating the Baby Dalupan-mentored Crispa, 65-58 in the title playoff.

The Reddy Kilowatts and the Redmanizers set the stage for the grand finale by finishing 1-2 order in the six-team elimination round field. Meralco topped the preliminary round with a clean 5-0 win-loss card, followed by Crispa, 4-1. Other teams in the cast were Mariwasa, Yco, San Miguel and Yutivo.

Leading the Kilowatts’ campaign were players from the just-disbanded Ysmael Steel Admirals – Alberto “Big Boy” Reynoso, Alfonso “Boy” Marquez, Jimmy Mariano and Orlando Bauzon —reinforced by Ramon Lucindo, Robert Jaworski, Fort Acuña, Francis Arnaiz, Bobby Salonga, Arthur Herrera, Larry Mumar and Jumbo Salvador.

The demise of the YCO-Ysmael Steel rivalry following the breakup of the Admirals in 1968, opened the gate for the Reddy Kilowatts -Redmanizers rivalry starting in 1970.

The fierce and bitter rivalry came into full-blown during the 1971 MICAA All-Filipino championship, when Reynoso and Jaworski punched referees Eriberto “Ting” Cruz and Jose “Joe” Obias for what was the duo’s perceived questionable calls against the Kilowatts.

Reynoso and Jaworski were meted lifetime suspension that was lifted two years later so the two can join the national team in the 1973 Asian Basketball Championship won by the Philippines via a clean slate.

Besides the Reinforced MICAA crown, Meralco also emerged triumphantly the 1969 National Seniors and the 1970 National Invitational championships.

Reynoso, Jaworski, Bauzon, Acuña and Arnaiz went on to form the nucleus of the Toyota Comets in the PBA in 1975, thus, extending their rivalry with the Redmanizers in the pro-league.

Incidentally, Jaworski became the playing-coach of the Ginebra franchise in the PBA, reason why he’s been regularly attending every Gin Kings game whenever they make it to the finals.

Following that sad incident and in the wake of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines, Meralco was disbanded only to return to big time with its acquisition of the Sta. Lucia Realty franchise in 2010.

Meralco, re-Christened “Bolts” in the pro-league, debuted in the PBA during the 2010-11 season with a lineup that included Mark Cardona, Asi Taulava, Nelbert Omolon, Marlou Aquino, Beau Belga, Dennis Daa, Chris Ross, Ogie Menor, Pong Escobal and Chris Pacana.

And as the saying goes, the rest is history!


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


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