The Crispa-Toyota rivalry can be traced to the time the Redmanizers became a cage power in Philippine big league basketball or more than a dozen years after having tasted the headlines of being a champion team in mid-50s.
That was during the defunct Businessman’s Basketball Association when the Pasig-based quintet had taken over Mariwasa as the country’s premier squad and came face-to-face with the challenge provided by Meralco.
It came, too, after some truly unforgettable feuds such as those between Ateneo-La Salle and Ateneo-San Beda in the NCAA. Between FEU and UST and UE and UST in the UAAP.
And in the MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association), precursor of the professional PBA, between YCO and Ysmael Steel, which ended on a sour note after the Steeleers’ six-year rule as national champions and disbanded after being dethroned.
In 1970, another cuch feud loomed as the Reddy Kilowatts set up shortly after Ysmael’s dismantling and, composed of ex-Steelers emerged as the Redmanizers’ fiercest rivals, losing out in the National Seniors and the MICAA Open but finally hitting pay dirt in the 1971 MICAA Open at the expense of Crispa.
This was the setting that fateful month in December when one of the darkest episodes in Philippine basketball occurred.
Robert “Sonny” Jaworski and Alberto “Big Boy” Reynoso, who just returned from leading a Philippine team to second place finish in the ABC (Asian Basketball Confederation) which qualified the country for the 1972 Munich Olympics, turned berserk in assaulting two referees during a Meralco-Crispa encounter.
The ugly incident meted out a lifetime suspension for both from the MICAA, the ruling body for the sport, the Basketball Association of the Philippines that was nevertheless lifted by President Marcos after two years.
The Meralco challenge collapse after that as the team was disbanded, while Crispa went on to rule as the country’s No. 1 team following a three-year campaign in the just opened pioneering pro-league – the — PBA until the shutout in 1978.
The Crispa-Toyota rivalry was revived!
The Redmanizers, however, were handicapped when owner-manager Danny Floro and coach Baby Dalupan sent six of their mainstays packing in the face of the game-fixing scandal they themselves unearthed.
Until 1978, when the sign of the rivalry finally had broken, the two archrivals with the most fanatical and loyal fans transcending even those of the NCAA and UAAP had engaged in countless do-or-die battles under the aegis of the PBA.
Up until that time, the Redmanizers, after 62 games, were enjoying a 34-26 advantage in the wins and losses records and 6-5 in the championships won.