William “Bogs” Adornado: Legendary scorer and comeback king

William “Bogs” Adornado: Legendary scorer and comeback king
Photo courtesy of Bogs Adornado's Facebook page.

Who would dare leave this guy open for a medium-range jumpshot or have a helping defender cover him after a pick in a daring drive to the basket? For William “Bogs” Adornado, it just seemed so easy--shaking off a hapless defender then be in the right position for that twinner. 

In his two decades as a player for the UAAP, MICAA and the PBA, no other scoring threat was as incredible and awesome than Adornado, who puzzles everyone on the court with his swift movement without the ball and that shock release that would make you rather turn away and just run back on the offensive end in aghast.

Adornado first showcased his wizardry in the UAAP, as the deadly scorer from the UST Glowing Goldies who brought a title to the Espana-based university in the 1967-68 season. He then made a big impact as the reliable scorer for the country’s national teams that brought home the crowns in the 1970 Asian Youth championships in South Korea and the historic 1973 ABC Men’s Championships in Manila. He was also the youngest basketball Olympian in the 1972 Munich Games, and the top scorer of the Philippines in the 1974 World Championships in Puerto Rico. 

Crispa hotshot

This Bicolano is widely associated in his basketball career as the Crispa hotshot. Adornado was merciless in his fiery shooting spurts for the Redmanizers in his rookie year in the 1971 MICAA alongside Danny Florencio and Jun Papa, winning the All-Filipino crown against the San Miguel Braves.  But as a game-fixing controversy depleted the Crispa bench and coach Baby Dalupan and owner Danny Floro rebuilt the team from scratch, Adornado remained a Redmanizer. He would power Crispa, with new recruits Bernie Fabiosa, Freddie Hubalde, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, and Abet Guidaben, to the 1974 MICAA All-Filipino against their newfound rivals, the Robert Jaworski-led Toyota Comets. 

The following year saw the birth of the PBA. Adornado and the rest of Crispa’s top players in the MICAA did not suit up for the Redmanizers’ first team in the PBA, remaining in the amateur league in an agreement with the Basketball Association of the Philippines over their promised inclusion in the national team. But as the BAP eventually reneged on this promise, Floro included his amateur star players into the Crispa’s pro team, which had a dismal start with a three-game losing streak.

At the nucleus of the Crispa Redmanizers in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, Adornado immediately made his presence felt leading his team in scoring and field-goal percentage. He scored a team-high 32 points in his maiden game in the Redmanizers’ 122-100 victory against Tanduay. The sweet shooter was instrumental in the team’s impressive wins in the eliminations and semifinal win over U-Tex, arranging a Best-of-Three Finals against their now arch-rivals Toyota. Despite winning Game 1, Crispa would then bow to Toyota in the next two games to lose the title. This finals debacle would repeat in the Second Conference—already leading Toyota, 2-1 in the Best-of-Five series, Crispa would then stumble in the next two games to again lose to the Comets, 2-3.

But in the first staging of the PBA All-Philippine conference, Crispa won’t let it slip by. With Adornado as its scoring leader, Crispa would upend Toyota for the first time in a league finals series, 3-2 to win its maiden PBA crown and deny the Comets a Grand Slam.

Two straight MVPs

Adornado would then again lead Crispa to phenomenal five straight championships, including the 1976 Grand Slam, ending with the 1977 Open Conference title against U-Tex. In this championship streak, Adornado was clearly the eminent PBA star, winning the PBA’s first two Most Valuable Player (MVP) titles in 1975 and 1976, and the first player to reach the 2,000 point milestone.

But as his career went on its glorious peak, an unfortunate turn suddenly put it to a screeching halt. Adornado injured his left knee in a 1977 Open Conference game, making him miss-out the entire season. And as he returned in 1978, Adornado wasn’t his usual self and was used sparingly—with his substitute in the offensive rotation, Freddie Hubalde, already stamping his class in the small-forward position he filled in the first five. Hubalde was the 1977 MVP. 

That led to his downward spiral in his ties with Crispa, as Adornado rode the bench most of his remaining years with the Redmanizers. He did however contribute immensely to the Crispa cause in the 1979 All-Filipino Conference, which Redmanizers won over Toyota.  Subsequently, however, Crispa would not have any room for its old hotshot. 

U-Tex miracle

Crispa released Adornado at the start of the 1980 season to the streaking U-Tex Wranglers for P100,000. Apparently humiliated by the deal, Adornado unleashed his wrath the proper way—playing what was his best individual effort in his new team. Alongside Lim Eng Beng, Matthew Gaston, and imports Glen McDonald and Aaron James, and coached by giant-killer coach Tommy Manotoc, U-Tex accomplished what was considered as the most astonishing “miracle” come-from-behind victory in a PBA championship game. Down by four points in the last 16 seconds against Toyota for the 1980 Open Conference, U-Tex would ride on the heroics of its imports in erasing that lead—James with a swift basket in the last 11 seconds, and McDonald intercepting the ball and converting on two free throws on a Francis Arnaiz foul in the last five seconds, sending the game into overtime. But it was their newly acquired hotshot that sealed the championship for the Wranglers. Adornado converted a shot from long range to give U-Tex the lead, 99-98, 1:25 left in overtime.  And that proved to be the marginal basket as both teams failed to score until the buzzer sounded, giving the Wranglers its second championship and Adornado, the first PBA player to win PBA titles for two separate teams. 

Immediately avenging his ungracious exit from his former team, Adornado proved his was even a better player than ever, entering the 1980 PBA Mythical Team, completing his amazing return to the league from what was supposed to be a career-ending injury.  In the 1981 Invitationals Conference, Adornado played his best game ever, scoring 64 points, collared 12 rebounds, dished out 3 assists, and posted 1 blocked shot—the highest local output at the time—in a U-Tex game against the San Miguel Beermen.

At the end of the year, Adornado was awarded his third PBA MVP Award.

Legendary Great Taste troika

When U-Tex disbanded in 1982, some members of the roster, including Adornado, were shipped to the Great Taste Coffeemakers. He teamed up with prized Fil-Am recruit from the Northern Cement team, Ricardo Brown, and San Miguel’s prolific import Norman Black, to complete the legendary Great Taste troika that won two more championships, which was orchestrated by Adornado’s Crispa coach Dalupan. Great Taste’s Third Conference title victory in 1984 was over his former team Crispa, which led to its disbandment.  

Adornado’s next prolific stint was with the expansion rookie franchise Shell Azodrin Bugbusters in 1985 with former Redmanizers Cezar and Fabiosa. Shell depended on Adornado to lead its offensive arsenal.  And he didn’t disappoint, taking the Bugbusters to the All-Filipino Finals in its first year in the PBA against his former team Great Taste. While Shell lost in its valiant effort against the Coffeemakers, Adornado would lead all scorers in the finals with a 34.5 ppg average and enter the Mythical Five, his last. During this season, Adornado became only the third player in PBA history to score 10,000 points.

Two years later, Adornado joined his last team as a PBA player, the Hills Bros Coffee Kings, which he helped gain two finals appearances.

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