FLASHBACK: The first PBA All-Star Game
Gerry Plaza on Jul 21, 2016 01:14 PM
THE WINNING COMBINATION: Ramon Fernandez and Sonny Jaworski conspired for the winning play during the first ever PBA All-Star Game 27 years ago (Photo courtesy of the 1990 PBA All-Star Game program).
It was nothing else but an epic night in Philippine basketball.
A constellation of the best players in the Philippine Basketball Association shone for the very first time on June 4, 1989 in the introductory PBA All-Star Game at the ULTRA in Pasig, wherein the veterans of the league were pitted against the dazzling rookies, sophomores and juniors at that time.
While the shootfest was expected, and all these legends and sensations just exchanging baskets in one superb show of skills. But the veterans squad, led by Ramon Fernandez, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, and Sonny Jaworski, controlled the game.
It all boiled down to the grueling last few minutes, wherein the RSJs led by Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc were on a fiery comeback.
Eventual All-Star MVP Elmer Cabahug and Magsanoc hit treys from beyond the arc in succession, before Jojo Lastimosa heaved through a phalanx of defenders from the deep left corner of the basket to score another three to tie the ballgame at 130-all, four seconds remaining.
And then the unthinkable happened.
Veterans coach Virgilio "Baby" Dalupan orchestrated a fitting dramatic end to this unforgettable game no one thought could happen again. It was a play involving Fernandez and Jaworski, two feuding legends not on speaking terms for several years. These revered icons in Philippine basketball were at odds since the disbanding of their fabled team, Toyota, wherein both had been on separate factions in its aftermath.
Fernandez had been quite supportive of the Delta Motors franchise sale to Lucio Tan’s Basic Shareholdings and became the franchise player of the resulting squad—Beer Hausen, with Toyota teammates Ricky Relosa, Ed Cordero, Pol Herrera, Tim Coloso, and Nic Bulaong.
Jaworski, on the other hand, had been viciously opposed to the sale and refused to have any part of it. The Big J, with allies Francis Arnaiz and Terry Saldana, eventually ended up in the La Tondena franchise, first with the Gilbey’s Gin Tonics and then eventually Ginebra San Miguel.
It was a chance at revisiting the glory, the familiarity, and their plain awesomeness as teammates about to execute a crucial game-winning play in the dying few seconds.
Inbounding from half-court, Jaworski fielded a sharp, accurate pass to an approaching Fernandez from the keyhole area, following Dalupan’s instructions to “meet the ball.” El Presidente then drove in from the left flank, outmaneuvering his defender Codinera and made a valiant, graceful, picturesque in-your-face layup despite the outstretched arms of the Defense Minister and his hotshot “Captain” Patrimonio.
The ball rolled in.
And, the crowd went wild as Fernandez and his fellow veterans leaped in jubilation celebrating his monumental buzzer beater that gave the Veterans a 132-130 win over RSJ. Fernandez then had high-fives with his teammates, and finally faced a smiling Jaworski, to whom he extended a warm handshake, which the Big J accepted to the cheers of the crowd.
Thus, we have witnessed not only an epic game winning play of the ages but also the team up and collaboration of two legends no one would thought would happen again, bringing a perfect last-second game winner into fruition.