He is known as the Philippines' greatest shooter ever. When he cocked that left hand, especially from beyond the three-point arc, from rainbow country, it was as if everyone watching in the coliseum or on television expected the ensuing shot to go in. He made many a defender grimace in sheer frustration because, try as they might, they just could not stop him.
Allan Caidic's star rose during his days at the University of the East, where he engaged in scoring sprees game in and game out. His outstanding performances caught the eye of national team coaches and officials, and he went on to be a mainstay on the Philippine basketball squad for many years, teaming up with his buddy, Samboy Lim, where they became known as the one-two punch, number 8 and number 9 (their jersey numbers), numbers which were on every opponent's scouting reports.
He officially entered the PBA as a rookie in 1987 and took the league by storm. For 13 years, he was a threat on offense unlike few others in PBA history. Multi-titled and multi-awarded, Caidic is undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever set foot on a PBA court and one of the legends in the country's rich basketball history.
Caidic related to us some of the happenings in what he considers his favorite PBA conference, as well as some others that come close.
What was your favorite season or conference in your PBA career?
"It has to be the 1990 All-Filipino Conference. I was in my fourth year. I am not so sure how we did in the elimination round, but I recall we did quite well (actually, his team, Presto, topped the elimination round with an unblemished 10-0 record). That was also the year that I won the Most Valuable Player award, so I had a pretty good season. Pero pinaka-memorable talaga ang All-Filipino kasi nag champion kami. And I was injured. Hindi ako nakalaro sa Game 7 ng Finals."
That was the series against Purefoods, where you alternated wins with them. What was on your mind entering that series and especially before Game 7?
"Personally, kinakabahan ako noon. Ang lakas ng Purefoods! We were the underdogs in the Finals. And then, hindi ako makakalaro. (Caidic had injured his hand in Game 6; he had been averaging 29 points per game so far in the series.) In my mind, worried ako because I couldn't help my team win the championship. Also, at that time, aside from me, Totoy Marquez was also injured. I even remember afterwards, at the victory celebration, naka crutches siya, ako naman may cast sa kamay."
Injured and on the sideline, as a spectator, what did you see transpire during that game?
"The veterans on our team really stepped up. They really showed the true meaning of teamwork, of leadership. Yun nga, nakita mo sa mga beterano, how they responded. Si Arnie (Tuadles), siya talaga naging leader ng team sa loob. Si Willie Generalao...even Padim Israel also. Sila talaga nagdala eh. Gerry Esplana and Zaldy Realubit also. Nakita mo na basketball isn't just a one-man thing. Para maging successful, talagang maraming component na kailangang pagsama-samahin. Kailangang mag step-up talaga, lalo na ang mga beterano."
Your favorite conference actually ended in quite a lopsided Game 7 win, after the first six games had been pretty close. After thinking you might not win, what was your reaction when you did?
"It made me so happy! Di ko akalain na tatalunin namin ang Purefoods. Step up talaga si Arnie. Super ganda laro niya at ni Willie Generalao. It was meant to be siguro, na talunin namin sila."
(Presto won Game 7, 115-96, with Tuadles topscoring with 33 points)
Do you have an "honorable mention" favorite conference?
"Yes, Siguro in 1985, pero that was when we were a guest team, sa NCC. At may dalawa kaming naturalized. Wala si Chip Engelland. It was just Dennis Still and Jeff Moore. Champion din kami noon. (NCC defeated Manila Beer in a 4-0 series sweep, the first sweep in PBA Finals history.)
May iba pa. In 1987, my rookie year, nag champion kami agad sa All-Filipino. (Great Taste defeated Hills Bros in a 3-0 series sweep.) Then, when I was new at San Miguel, 1993, nanalo din kami. (San Miguel defeated Swift, 4-1, in the Governors' Cup.) In 1994, we also won the All-Filipino. Karamihan ng memorable sa akin, All-Filipino. Sa five championships ko, tatlo All-Filipino."
In the 1990 season that included his favorite conference, MVP Caidic averaged 26.6 points on 49% shooting overall, 38% on three-pointers, and 85% from the charity stripe. He also grabbed 3.6 rebounds, dished out 3.8 assists, and had 1.3 steals per outing, in 65 games.