PBA legend Allan Caidic talked with ESPN5.com's Charlie Cuna, Sid Ventura and Noel Zarate on a recent episode of An Eternity of Basketball about his playing career. On Thursday we ran an article on what he said about his amateur playing days with the UE Red Warriors, the NCC team, and the 1986 Asian Games bronze medal-winning national team. This article covers, among others, his rookie year with the Great Taste Coffee Makers and his two record-setting scoring outbursts.
The core of the Northern Consolidated team joined the professional ranks as Magnolia in the 1986 Third Conference, but it would not have Caidic on the roster.
Caidic explained he was trying to make the youth team that year after missing the cut along with Jarencio, Capacio and Chot Reyes two years prior.
"The youth team was the stepping stone before you made the men's team and the PBA," he said. "We thought we were shoo-ins because we practiced well under coach Larry Albano. But during that time, there were players from Visayas that became part of the pool. We didn't know that in the first few practices because they weren't there -- Al Solis, Dondon Ampalayo, Anthony Mendoza. They joined a few days before they determined the final cuts.
"We felt disappointed because we expected we'd be shoo-ins. It was my dream to be part of the youth team. I only got lucky because I was picked to join the men's team (NCC) as part of team B."
After NCC was disbanded, a shot at joining the youth team became apparent when the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) and Magnolia management told him to stay behind and play again for the country, which was hosting the tournament back then.
"After our Guam stint and the Asian Games stint, that's when they talked to us to stay for the youth team. Personally, I was excited because that's what I wanted. But when we came back from Guam, there became an issue about us being overaged. We had no choice but to resign from the team," he explained.
Caidic played for one conference in the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL) before declaring for the 1987 PBA draft, where he revealed he wasn't supposed to be the first overall pick.
Shell, which had acquired the Crispa franchise, had the no. 1 pick and wanted to use it on Al Solis, whom they wanted to groom as the heir apparent in the backcourt to Bernie Fabiosa.
"Coach Ed Ocampo (of Shell) was very open about getting a point guard, which was Al Solis. He really wanted Al Solis to be drafted by Shell," he shared. "Based on that assumption, I was supposed to fall to the Alaska franchise because they had the no. 2 pick.
Sensing they'd already have Caidic in the bag, Alaska -- renamed the Hills Bros. Coffee Kings for that season -- brought the sweet-shooting gunner along and let him practice for almost a month under coach Nat Canson and with 'Bruise Brothers' Yoyoy Villamin and Ricky Relosa.
That budding partnership with the Alaska franchise would not come to fruition, though, as a call from Dalupan, who was with Great Taste at the time, started a series of events that would change the course of history.
"Coach Baby Dalupan called me and said (Great Taste team manager Ignacio) Gotao wanted to get me. I told him it's not my call. So, they talked to Alaska. Alaska didn't budge. Team manager Joel Aquino and owner Fred Uytengsu probably refused because they were corporate rivals," Caidic laughed.
Great Taste, determined to get Caidic at any cost, then went straight to Shell and offered a trade that would exchange Manny Victorino and Jimmy Manansala for Philip Cezar, Bernard Fabiosa and a pick swap, giving the Coffee Makers the rights to the first overall pick.
Alaska, meanwhile, picked Solis and traded him to Shell for Bogs Adornado.
Playing for Great Taste
Caidic -- who joined a star-studded nucleus that had Atoy Co, Ricardo Brown, Arnie Tuadles, and Abe King, along with Cezar and Fabiosa -- admitted he was worried he wouldn't get the exposure and minutes that he needed as a rookie due to the depth of the team.
"But when I came into the team, they welcomed me with open arms -- totally the opposite of what I expected. They were open-minded, really taught and guided me. In fact, I really became better," he said.
Learning from the Great Taste greats
Joining a loaded Great Taste roster helped Allan Caidic become a better player in the long run.
"In my mind, I knew I could play in the PBA already thanks to my experiences internationally. I was ready to duke it out. But I was playing with superstars, and I thought we might have conflicting styles. I thought about that. But when I arrived, that's when I realized I was wrong. I gained more knowledge and confidence in approaching the game."
Unlike the rules in amateur and international basketball, the PBA had no illegal defense at the time, which meant that players found themselves in one-on-one situations frequently. That didn't prove to be a problem for Caidic, though, as he learned that his teammates always had his back.
"Atoy, Arnie, and Ricky really taught me (in one-on-one situations). How could I not gain confidence? When they knew the defense was on me, Abe King or Philip Cezar would tell me to run the players through their screens and they'd take care of me. Sometimes I'd get one wink from Bernie Fabiosa and suddenly I'd find the ball in my hands. They'd also teach me how to take advantage of mismatches, how to bait defenses into fouling, and mga kagulangan (physical plays)," said Caidic.
A supportive and nurturing environment only served as a catalyst for the success of Caidic, who made the Mythical Team while winning the Rookie of the Year award and eventually going on to win two titles with the franchise.
Caidic didn't actively hunt shots to pad his output, though he'll be the first to admit the fact that he knew who held certain records.
"Back in the day, I had a tendency to read the PBA Annual. Starting from 1985, I had one every year. I really collected them. I'd read the team records, scoring records," he said.
Knowing who held a specific milestone came in handy when the prospect of Caidic etching his name atop the PBA's scoring pantheon presented itself.
The first opportunity came by accident during Presto's 175-159 win in overtime over Alaska on November 2, 1989. At the time, the scoring record was at 64 points jointly held by Adornado and Danny Florencio.
"Alaska went into a 2-2-1 zone. When we broke the zone, I was in the three-point area just firing away. When they went man-to-man, Abe and Philip would give me screens. I was really confident in trying to let my man collide with them in screens," he said.
The offensive game plan eventually helped Caidic hit 15 threes -- a new league record, breaking his own tally of 10 for most by a local and import Jose Slaughter's 14 for most by anyone in the PBA. But he found out that there was also a little more time to register another new milestone that was just within his reach.
"When I hit 15 threes, I still had a few minutes to break the 64-point record by Bogs and Danny. That's why I hit 68. We already had a big lead and the win in the bag, if I'm not mistaken. I kinda had the notion to go for the record," he said.
Alaska's Bong Alvarez reset the tally with 71 points in the Air Force's 169-138 win over Shell in April 1990, but Caidic would steal back the record -- and set a handful more -- a little over two years after his 68-point game.
November 21, 1991 was supposed to be a day dedicated to his family, as his wife Milotte was due to give birth to their first child. Caidic had no plans to play but was advised by the doctor to relax and come back later in the evening since his wife underwent extended labor.
"I talked to my parents, to my wife and in-laws (about playing) and they were okay with it. I was fidgety," he recalled.
Caidic eventually made his way to the ULTRA, where Tivoli was set to face Ginebra San Miguel.
"When I reached the ULTRA, I told coach Jimmy I didn't get a lot of sleep because I was tending to my wife. He told me to just suit up. I didn't sweat much during the round robin warm-ups and in the first quarter, I just sat at the end of the bench. I was fidgety because my mind was at the hospital, and it was a free-wheeling game."
Mariano then approached Caidic and asked him if he wanted to play. The shooting guard agreed and looked to check in with about two minutes to go in the first quarter, but the lack of a dead-ball situation prevented him from doing so immediately.
"There was a foul that allowed me to go in, but there were only four seconds to go in the quarter. I just ran back on defense once and then the buzzer sounded," he said.
Caidic made up for lost time and unloaded 26 huge points in the second quarter. At halftime, some teammates called for him to aim for a new scoring record.
In the second half, Caidic was basically unconscious and just mercilessly bombed away from all areas of the floor on offense to push Tivoli to a scintillating 162-149 win over the crowd darlings. 'The Triggerman' rewrote history books with new marks for most points in a half (53 in the second half), most in a quarter (37 in the third), most three-point shots made (17) and most threes attempted (27).
"Abe King urged me to break the record because I had a great second quarter," shared Caidic. "When the third quarter came, that's where I hit nine three-pointers. The time I missed in the first quarter came back to me in the third quarter. The ball was in my hands almost all the time."
Caidic would win two more titles with the San Miguel Beermen before retiring and delving into coaching and management duties with the Barangay Ginebra franchise, but every so often, he'd still flash his vintage form in what may be not-so-subtle reminders about his greatness.
In 2010, Caidic drew praises from NBA champion and former three-point contest titlist Glen Rice, who was left impressed by the Filipino marksman's excellence after watching him explode for 54 points and 14 triples when the two teamed up in the NBA Asia Basketball Challenge in Manila.
"It felt heartwarming because somehow, they'd recognize when they got to the country that basketball here in the Philippines is also pretty good," Caidic said of Rice's praises. "Although it was just an exhibition game, I really enjoyed it. Somehow, you could show them that if only we weren't small, we could also play in the NBA."
A year ago, Caidic also hit a whopping 46 threes and scored 142 points in a "fun" exhibition game held in Ilocos.
"It was just a fun game. Pido Jarencio and Gerry Esplana actually had the idea to keep feeding me the ball. They really made me work that night -- they didn't do anything but give me the ball, and I was just standing at the three-point line. It was a fun game," he said with a laugh.
Time erodes most memories, but Caidic's immortal, golden stroke could probably outlive us all.