Manila, June 1, 2003 By Nelson Beltran, (Star) Now how about a rematch?

THE CRISPA-TAMARAW REUNION GAMEThe atmosphere was no different from the era long gone — a mammoth crowd
roaring at the Big Dome with the gladiators and the titans in the Crispa Redmanizers
and the Toyota Tamaraws reliving their fabled rivalry, slugging it out with so much
pride, passion and enthusiasm Friday.

At first, some of them were reluctant to buy the idea. But after it was over,
everybody was yearning to do it again, if a series is not possible.

Robert Jaworski, now a senator of the land, made a basket the crowd was aching
to see all night long with time down to 23.3 seconds as the Tamaraws bested the Redmanizers, 65-61, in their memorable reunion duel.

It was a classic match which got a climactic ending with the two teams’ biggest stars coming through with the crucial plays in the homestretch.

"We couldn’t ask for a better ending," said Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Noli Eala.

But it doesn’t look it’s the end.

The Redmanizers, who were unable to make good their pronouncements they would win the game, immediately
asked for a rematch.

The Tamaraws gamely accepted the challenge.

"Dapat may rematch. Hindi namin napaghandaan nang husto ito," said Abet Guidaben, the 6-foot-5 Crispa center who carried much of the fight for the Redmanizers with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

"Kailangan bumawi," said Atoy Co, who acted as the Crispa leader but struggled on the court, going 3-of-14 from the field and 2-of-6 from the stripe.

"Anytime, anywhere, anyplace," said Ramon Fernandez in accepting the Crispa challenge.

"Why not? We had a good time there. The spirit is there at maraming natuwang tao. Mas maganda kung sa probinsya naman ilaro para mapanood din ng mga kababayan natin sa probinsya," said Jaworski.

Incidentally, Fernandez and Jaworski conspired for the game’s deciding play with the latter dishing out an assist to the former for a three-pointer that triggered a deafening roar in the venue.

Fernandez’s assist brought back memories of the 1989 All-Star game when Jaworski hit his former rival and teammate with a pass that led to the basket that won the game.

"It’s just fitting that I returned the favor. I wanted to draw his man to keep him open and just like the Big J of old, he hit the shot," said Fernandez.

"Parang scripted," said Jaworski. "The option was there, alangan naman ipasa ko pa, eh open naman."

That was the lone attempt made by Jaworski in 10 minutes of action. The 1977 MVP awardee pulled down one rebound and committed one foul for his other stats.

Jaworski later maintained he’s yet to retire from the game. "Hindi pa. Hindi pa nga ako nagwa-warm up (for a comeback)," said Jaworski, whose most recent stint on the hard court was in 1998 as player-coach at Ginebra.

Terry Saldaña and Chito Loyzaga, among the young Turks in the Toyota lineup, piled up big numbers, with the former tallying 15 points and 15 rebounds and the latter 14 points and 15 rebounds. Saldana, who scored four points and made one big steal in the payoff quarter, won the game’s MVP honors.

He touched off raw nerves after the contest when he was heard in the TV interview calling the Crispa players "parang mga squatters (kung maglaro)."

"Mag pa-drug-test muna siya," said Co, suggesting Saldaña used to be a drug-user. "Bobo yon, eh. Hindi niya naiintindihan ang sinasabi niya. Look who’s talking," said Cezar.

As in their skirmishes in the good old days, elbows were thrown here and there, bodies flew all over the court and not a few times a fight nearly marred the game. There were Oscar Rocha unleashing a kick to Guidaben while sprawling on the court, Rolly Marcelo barely eluding a clenched fist from Mon Cruz, Marcelo in another instance buying a fight against Bernie Fabiosa and Bong dela Cruz and Pol Herrera figuring in a number of fierce collisions at the paint.

Present-day PBA stars Olsen Racela, Kenneth Duremdes and Dondon Hontiveros were awe-struck at the sidelines. All playing in the All-Star Game today, the three agreed the Crispa-Toyota reunion game was a tough act to follow.

Crispa-Toyota Reunion Notes: Eala himself is entertaining the idea of a Crispa-Toyota rematch. "Maybe next year in another special PBA event. Pero dapat nga sa probinsya naman"….. The only player reluctant to a rematch is Bogs Adornado: "Masakit na masyado sa katawan. Ngayong game lang na ito, apat na parte ng katawan ko ang masakit. Ayaw ko ng maglaro"….. In the pre-game huddle in the dugout, Toyota coach Dante Silverio told his players their game plan would be "to make a platoon substitution every after six minutes so you can play as a 20-year-old and we will beat Crispa." They did that in the first three quarters. Fernandez suffered a pulled hamstring but agreed to return to the court in the fateful final two minutes to chants of "Fer-nan-dez, Fer-nan-dez, Fer-nan-dez" by the crowd….. Jaworski said the Redmanizers should not feel bad with the loss. "Second place naman sila," he said in jest….. Dave Floro, son of the late Crispa bossman Danny Floro, hosted a sort of party for the Redmanizers and their families at a nearby restaurant after the contest. And the Redmanizers had a good time ribbing each other in the party that lasted a few minutes before dawn. "Ang daming coaches na sa amin, tapos ang nag-coach yung hindi naman coach. Eh di magulo," said Freddie Hubalde, pointing to Rudy Soriano who called the shots for the team. "Eto, isang beses lang nag-ensayo, tapos sya ang naglaro ng matagal," said Cezar, pointing to Bernie Fabiosa. Co couldn’t blame anybody but himself, saying: "Namaga ang ring sa akin"….. The players mentioned coach Baby Dalupan now having problem with his memory. "Philip palitan mo nga yon. Sino ba yon?" said Cezar. "Sa akin ang tawag Atoy," said Itoy Esguerra.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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