Did you know that an NBA champion team once came to town to play a PBA selection? Or that the three-point line was once a semi-circle? Or that there was once a big incentive for the winner of one of the all-Filipino conferences? On the occasion of the PBA's 45th anniversary, we at ESPN5.com decided to list 45 interesting trivia about Asia's first play-for-pay basketball league. (Editor's note: This was originally published on April 8, 2019 and was recently updated.)
1. In 1978, Royal Tru Orange had an import named Frank Gugliotta, Jr, the elder brother of then future NBA All-star Tom Gugliotta, who played for seven teams in a 13-year pro career.
2. In 1975, the maiden season of the PBA, the league had its first seven-footer in import Nate Stephens of Concepcion Carrier.
3. In the first conference of the inaugural season 1975, the All-Filipino, teams were allowed to "reinforce" their line-ups with an import. However, for financial considerations, only three teams actually did: Toyota (Byron "Snake" Jones), Concepcion Carrier (Cisco Oliver), and Mariwasa (Billy Robinson).
4. "Sister teams" are not something relatively new in the PBA. Back in 1978, Silverio-owned Filipinas Manufacturers Bank (Filmanbank) purchased the 7-Up franchise, thus making the Filmanbank Bankers the sister team of the Toyota Tamaraws. Filmanbank "sold" 7-Up star Danny Florencio to Toyota when it made the acquisition.
5. In the first few seasons of the PBA, individual awards were, curiously, handed out after just the First Conference. Thus, Adornado (1975, 1976), Hubalde (1977), Co (1979), and Robert Jaworski (1978) all won their MVP awards after just one conference. It was only in 1980 when the awards became a season-ending affair.
6. In September 1978, while preparing for the FIBA World Championship to be held at the Araneta Coliseum, Yugoslavia and Canada came to the Philippines to play exhibition games against local powerhouses Crispa and Toyota. Crispa, reinforced by imports Paul Mills and Ansley Truitt, lost to both visiting squads, while Toyota, with Bruce "Sky" King and Carlos Terry as imports, beat both convincingly. Jaworski showcased his world-class skills by going toe to toe against the likes of Zoran Slavnic and Leo Rautins.
7. The Washington Bullets (now Wizards), who were the 1978 NBA champions, arrived in Manila in 1979 to play a one-game exhibition against a PBA selection composed of nine locals, one from each PBA team except for Toyota, which had two, (Ramon Fernandez, Jaworski, Co, Lim Eng Beng, Manny Paner, Rudy Kutch, Rene Canent, Yoyong Martirez, Jesse Sullano, and Bing del Rosario) and five imports (Larry McNeil, Dean Tolson, Cyrus Mann, Glenn McDonald, and Larry Pounds). Despite a tough stand from the PBA selection, the Bullets pulled away in the second half to win, 133-123.
8. The first PBA Finals sweep happened in the 1977 Invitational Conference, when the Toyota Tamaraws demolished the visiting Emtex Sacronels of Brazil, 3-0. What was most impressive about the Tamaraws' victory was that the Sacronels featured the core of the Brazilian national team, which would eventually place third in the 1978 FIBA World Championship, including a young Oscar Schmidt.
9. When the PBA opened in 1975, it had a 25-second shot clock instead of the now customary 24-second shot clock. This was not because the PBA was just trying to be different from the NBA, but because, due to limited technology, the timers available then were only capable of being set in values divisible by five. The 24-second shot clock became a PBA staple only in the 1990s.
10. After the PBA had been in existence for a couple of seasons, the league instituted a rule where a player fouled in the act of shooting by the opposing team, provided the team was already in penalty, would have three chances to make two free throws - the "three to make two" rule. If the player fouled and taking the free throws made the first two, then there would be no third attempt. Of course, this presumes that the shot did not go in. On the other hand, if the shot did go in despite the foul, there was NO bonus free throw back in the '70s. It was only in the early '80s when the "and one" situation was allowed.
11. Toyota import Bruce "Sky" King wore the number 11 on his jerseys when he played in the PBA in 1977 and 1978. However, when the team again recruited him in 1979, eventual Rookie of the Year Arnulfo "Arnie" Tuadles was already wearing number 11. Not wanting to completely abandon his preferred jersey number, and with the permission of the league, King wore the number 111, the only time in PBA history that a player sported a three-digit jersey number.
- Charlie Cuna
12. When the NBA adapted the three-point arc to begin its 1979-1980 season, the PBA followed suit but used a semi-circle whose ends straightened towards the sidelines. Long shots taken from the baseline corners were still two-point field goals. In 1981, the "arc" type of three-point line was used. Toyota's Robert Jaworski was the first player to make a triple.
13. While the PBA All-Star game has taken many incarnations, the format the league adapts today started 37 years ago when the North All-Stars (led by Bulacan's Abe King and Mandaluyong's Manny Victorino) locked horns against the South All-Stars (led by the Cebuano tandem of Arnie Tuadles and Ramon Fernandez) split a two-game home and away series on October 23rd (in Cebu) and 24th (in Manila). Tuadles-who scored a career-high 50 points in the South All-Star's 122-119 triumph at the Cebu Coliseum-was adjudged MVP by his peers.
14. The Crispa Redmanizers still hold the record for PBA's longest winning streak. The team won 21 games during their Grand Slam 1983 season, a run that stretched over two months and started in the All-Filipino Conference and ended in the Reinforced Filipino Conference.
15. Franz Pumaren was the first player to complete a four-point play in a PBA game, doing it in 1984 as a member of the guest team Northern Consolidated.
16. On November 21, 1985, in the first game of a best-of-seven series for third place in the Reinforced Conference, Ginebra beat Great Taste 197-168. That game still holds the record for most points by a team (197), most points by a team in a half (Ginebra with 112), most combined points (165), and most rebounds by a player (Michael Hackett with 45). At the time it also set records for most assists (Arnie Tuadles with 23) and points by an import (Hackett with 103), both of which have been broken.
17. The 1984 season had two All-Filipino Conferences. With the Philippines still reeling from the economic downfall that followed the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino the year prior, the member teams opted not to go through two import-laced conferences but instead had back-to-back All-Filipino tournaments (won by Crispa and Great Taste). They still ended the season with an Invitational Conference where Great Taste's Jeff Collins became the first lone Best Import awardee of a season.
18. Great Taste is the only team to win four straight crowns without achieving a Grand Slam. The Gokongwei franchise won the last two conferences of 1984 and the first two conferences of 1985. They just missed the Finals of the 1985 Reinforced Conference, losing a knockout game against guest amateur team North Consolidated.
19. On December 11, 1980 during Game 3 of the Finals in the All-Filipino Conference between Crispa and Toyota, Fort Acuña was fired from his position as Head Coach of Toyota at halftime after a spat with team manager Pabling Carlos after Acuña benched superstar guard Robert Jaworski in the first half.
20. Nicholas Stoodley and Northern Consolidated hold the distinction of being the only two guest teams to win a PBA title, and they both won via sweeps. Nicholas Stoodley won the 1980 Invitational Conference with a 2-0 sweep of Toyota, while NCC swept Manila Beer, 4-0, in the 1985 Reinforced Conference.
21. In 1988, Alvin Patrimonio was among those national team members which were headed to the newly formed Purefoods Hotdogs (along with Jojo Lastimosa, Jerry Codiñera, Glen Capacio and Jojo Villapando). However, its rival company RFM (makers of Swift Hotdogs) refused to release their star player to a corporate rival. Touted as the best rookie in the crop, Patrimonio had to sit out the First Conference while the case dragged on and when the former Mapua ace finally secured his release, it was already mid-season and he could not catch Lastimosa in the Rookie of the Year race.
22. Also in 1988, PBA Commissioner Rudy Salud decreed that top big men Ramon Fernandez, Abet Guidaben, Manny Victorino and Yoyoy Villamin all had to play for separate teams to balance the league. The rule was discarded later on as the four players aged, and Victorino eventually became teammates with Guidaben for two seasons with Pepsi.
- Noel Zarate
23. Baby Dalupan won his last PBA title by leading the Purefoods Hotdogs back from a 0-2 deficit against Alaska in the 1990 Third Conference. Dalupan also led Crispa from a 0-2 deficit against Toyota in the 1976 All-Philippine Conference Finals.
24. On November 21, 1991, Allan Caidic scored 79 points, a record which still stands to this day for all local players, in Presto's 162-149 win over Ginebra. Caidic also set records for most points in a quarter (37) and half (53), most three-point shots in a game (17) and a quarter (9), and most consecutive three-point shots made (8). He did this while virtually playing only three quarters (he was sent in only towards the end of the first quarter) and on the day his eldest daughter was born.
25. On July 18, 1999, Pop Cola defeated Shell, 54-52, in the lowest-scoring PBA game in history.
26. On May 14, 1991, Ginebra was trailing Shell, 80-85, with 8:31 left in Game 5 of the First Conference Finals. Over the next six minutes and 48 seconds, Ginebra would go on to score 32 unanswered points to surge ahead 112-85, setting the record for largest scoring run.
27. In 1990, Arnie Tuadles became the first player to win championships in two consecutive conferences while playing for two different teams. Tuadles was with Formula Shell when the Zoom Masters won the First Conference title over Ginebra. He left the team right before the All-Filipino Conference and was picked up by eventual conference champion Presto Tivoli. With ace gunner Allan Caidic out with an injured hand, Tuadles scored 33 points in Game 7 of the conference finals, helping Presto beat Purefoods 113-96.
28. The 1990 First Conference Finals ended in controversy after Añejo Rum walked out of Game 6 trailing Formula Shell 47-62 in protest of what they perceived to be unfair officiating. This was after Rey Cuenco was whistled for his fourth foul and was eventually ejected for two consecutive technical fouls. With the ULTRA crowd pelting the court with debris, both teams retreated to their respective locker rooms. PBA Commissioner Rudy Salud gave them 10 minutes to return to the court. The Zoom Masters eventually did, but there was no sign of the 65ers. Salud eventually gave Ginebra two 90-second extensions, but the team stayed put in their locker room. The Zoom Masters, who were leading the series 3-2 at that point, were declared champions by forfeiture, and PBA Commissioner Rudy Salud fined the Ginebra franchise a record P500,000.
29. The PBA first lent its players to the national team in 1990. An all-PBA team coached by Robert Jaworski won the silver medal in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games. The team was made up of Mon Fernandez, Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, Allan Caidic, Hecto Calma, Samboy Lim, Ronnie Magsanoc, Dante Gonzalgo, Yves Dignadice, Rey Cuenco, Chito Loyzaga and Zaldy Realubit. Realubit was the only rookie on the team, and was actually named as a replacement for Jerry Codiñera, who fell ill with hepatitis a few weeks before the tournament.
30. Four years later, the Basketball Association of the Philippines (forerunner of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) and the PBA forged an agreement to send the 1994 All-Filipino Conference champions to the Hiroshima Asian Games. The San Miguel Beermen won the title, but injuries to several of their players forced the league to allow Purefoods to lend Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera and Rey Evangelista and Alaska to lend Johnny Abarrientos. Despite the beefed-up lineup, the Philippines finished fourth.
31. Lambert Shell, an import who played for Sta. Lucia in the 1990s, holds the record for most minutes played in a game. He played every single minute in a three-overtime game (63) in November 1993.
32. Mon Fernandez retired after the 1994 season as the PBA's all-time leader in points, rebounds, free throws, blocks and minutes. He played 20 seasons and won 19 championships and was named to the Mythical First Team a record 13 times.
33. Leon Wood, who is currently an NBA referee, is thus far the only Olympic basketball gold medalist to have played in the PBA. Wood, who won a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, suited up for Purefoods in the 1994 Governors' Cup as a replacement for Byron Irvin.
- Sid Ventura
34. Danny Ildefonso became the first PBA player to win five consecutive Best Player of the Conference awards, achieving the feat from the 2000 Commissioner's Cup up to the 2001 Governors' Cup.
35. Emilio "Jun" Bernardino was the longest-serving commissioner in the PBA, serving from 1994 until 2002.
36. On December 9, 2005, American import Damian Owens registered an all-time PBA record 11 steals to lead Sta. Lucia to a heart-stopping 105-104 double overtime win against Red Bull.
37. Kerby Raymundo entered the PBA record books on October 25, 2006 after playing 61 minutes in Purefoods' 109-103 triple-overtime victory against Talk 'N Text, the most by a local.
38. Ali Peek went a perfect 12-of-12 from the field en route to finishing with 27 points as he lifted the Coca-Cola Tigers to an 81-69 victory against his former team Alaska on March 10, 2006. His perfect field-goal performance remains a PBA record to this day.
39. Shell ended up on the wrong side of the PBA history after scoring the all-time lowest output in a single game in its 79-47 loss to Mobiline on May 3, 2000.
40. Renren Ritualo shares two PBA records with the legendary Allan Caidic. On April 29, 2005, he knocked down eight straight three-point shots and finished with nine makes in one quarter in FedEx's 116-106 victory over Red Bull Barako.
41. Alex Compton registered averages of 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals during the 2007 Fiesta Cup when he served as Welcoat's second import. Prior to playing for Welcoat, Compton served as one of the team's assistant coaches.
42. Ginebra and Mobiline share the record for least points in a quarter, with both teams scoring a measly two points on different occasions. Mobiline did it in 2001 against Sta. Lucia while Ginebra did it in 2003 against Coca-Cola.
43. San Miguel Corporation is the only surviving franchise from the PBA's original teams that played in the inaugural 1975 season. The team carried the Royal Tru-Orange name 44 yeas ago. The other teams were Concepcion-Carrier, Crispa, Mariwasa-Noritake, Presto Ice Cream, Seven-Up, Tanduay, Toyota, and U/Tex.
44. As of April 2020, Rafi Reavis, Peter June Simon and Reynel Hugnatan are the only active PBA players to have played in the rival Metropolitan Basketball Association.
45. June Mar Fajardo is the only PBA player who has won the MVP award six times. Interestingly, he was named MVP in six consecutive years, from 2014 to 2019, which is also a league record.
- Richard Dy