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Monday, October 17, 2011

Arnulfo "Arnie" Tuadles, Jr.

I originally posted this in mypba.com.
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Arnulfo Tuadles, Jr.
Height: 6'2
Weight: 170 pounds (?)
Playing Position: Small Forward
Teams: Toyota, Ginebra, Great Taste, Alaska, Shell
Year Joined the PBA: 1979
Monicker: I don't recall except Joe Cantada used to describe Tuadles as "The Visayan debonaire" or "The Cebuano Loverboy"
Career Highlight: first PBA player to crack the Mythical 5 in his rookie season
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Arnulfo "Arnie" Tuadles was a stalwart in the MICAA, playing for the Manilabank Golden Bankers in the mid-70's before peddling his wares with the San Miguel Braves. Tuadles was one of the many talented Visayan players who donned the SMB uniform in the MICAA as the company was one of the movers and believers of tapping basketball talents from the grassroots. Tuadles, along with Marlowe Jacutin, Salvador Ramas and Melchor Ravanes, were top Cebuano cagers in the Cebu league although Tuadles was drafted earlier by the Puyats via Manilabank. Tuadles though, wasn't one of the more celebrated players in the MICAA back then. Since San Miguel was normally out of the running in the MICAA finals (perennially dominated by Solid Mills and Frigidaire / MAN Diesel), Tuadles wasn't mentioned in the same breath as a Federico Lauchengco, an Emerito Legaspi, an Angelito Ladores, an Alex Clarino, or a Hector Calma. 

That was why when Tuadles was signed up by the Toyota Tamaraws at the start of the 1979 season, a lot of Tamaraws fans' eyebrows were raised, asking who Tuadles was? Toyota fans were also wondering why they weren't able to secure Lauchengco who came from their farm team in the MICAA or Ladores who was already with their sister team Filmanbank in the PBA in 1978. At that time, the Tamaraws were having difficulty finding a good #3 player since original small forward Rodolfo Segura has been waived already while 1976 ROY Virgilio Cortez was perennially injured. Danny Florencio and Estoy Estrada's entry in the 1978 season would have answered this weakness and true enough, Toyota won two out of three titles that season. But Florencio went on AWOL at the start of the 1979 season while Estrada was experiencing a falling out with Silverio - slowly losing the trust accorded to him by the fashionable coach. Tuadles' entry with Toyota allowed Silverio to tinker with his starting lineup once more.

Silverio initially tried out Emerito Legaspi at the starting #3 position in the 1979 season. Legaspi panned out though, as he was too small to go up against the likes of Freddie Hubalde, Jess Migalbin, and Jun Papa. Tuadles was a perfect fit since not only was he bigger, he also was capable of doing what Legaspi was expected to do - score from the outside, penetrate and receive the outlet pass. Tuadles, as a matter of fact, transformed the receiving the outlet pass to an art as he was able to convert the fastbreak without dribbling the ball. 

Soon thereafter, Tuadles earned Silverio's nod and became Toyota's starting forward for the entire 1979 season. Silverio later would show his appreciation to his young ward by getting his services for Shell in the 1989 season. And because he was able to mesh well with the resident Toyota superstars, Tuadles was able to crack the Mythical 5 selection with ease - at his rookie year! This was unprecedented - and continues to be so as only four other players have matched this feat - Ricky Brown in 1983, Allan Caidic in 1987, Benjie Paras in 1989 and Danny Seigle in 1999. 

Tuadles' trademark moves were countless, but he became popular for his "contra-tiempo" move - one of only a few players in the Philippines capable of shooting the ball using the other foot. His timing was uncanny and unorthodox, that even top shot blockers like Phillip Cezar and Norman Black admitted that he was one of the most difficult players to block. Also, Tuadles' moves appeared to be ginger and deceptively slow on camera - but in actuality, Tuadles is one of the quickest players of his generation. The great thing about Tuadles as well was his versatility - he was one of the old-school players who knew not only how to score from inside but had equal accuracy from outside. 

In 1982, the PBA organized the Mello Yello (a softdrink brand under the Coke company - similar to Lift soda today) All Star competitions. Two teams were formed - the players based in the North (those who find their roots in Luzon) and players from the South (Visayas and Mindanao). The best players came to compete - including Tuadles' teammates Jaworski, Arnaiz, King (all of whom played for the North) and Fernandez (Tuadles' teammate at South) plus their arch rivals from Crispa like Atoy Co, Bernie Fabiosa, Abet Guidaben, Phillip Cezar and Freddie Hubalde. Bogs Adornado, Manny Paner, Willie Generalao among others also took part in this activity. The first game was held in Cebu, won by the South team and led by Tuadles who popped in 50 points that game. They won against the North team by 3. In Manila a couple of days after, the North team avenged their loss, winning Game 2 by 5 points and winning the series altogether because of the cumulative format. Tuadles however was named MVP of the series for his scintillating performance.

When Toyota disbanded at the start of the 1984 season, he found himself playing for Ignacio Gotao's Great Taste team. While most of the players of Toyota went to Basic Holdings, Inc., owners of Beer Hausen (Relosa, Cordero, Coloso, Herrera, Legaspi, Fernandez), Arnaiz and Jaworski went to Ginebra, King gravitated towards Gold Eagle and Tuadles and Chito Loyzaga found a new home in Great Taste. Tuadles had a homecoming the next season with Jaworski though as he suited up for the Ginebra team in the 1985 season, helping the ragtag Ginebra team to be competitive the whole season round during Jaworski's first year of coaching. A falling out with the Big J led to his departure the next season. 

Tuadles became part of the new team Alaska Milkmen alongside Naning Valenciano, Dennis Abbatuan, Alejo Alolor among others at the start of the 1986 season. Since Alaska didn't fare well in the entire 1986 season, Tuadles' career somehow got stalled. He then moved back to the Gokongwei franchise in 1987 and found himself in unfamiliar territory - playing alongside erstwhile nemesis Cezar, Bernie Fabiosa and Atoy Co. It was a volatile mix of Crispa and Toyota players (Abe King was with GTC also) but it also proved that these players can co-exist and do well together, particularly if they were being handled by a great coach in Dalupan.

Towards the end of the 1988 season, Shell plucked Dante Silverio out of retirement to replace Joe Lipa as their head coach. Silverio wasted no time in getting Tuadles' services again and this was made possible at the start of the 1989 season. Silverio even went out of his way to get Arnie's younger brother Calvin from the 1989 rookie draft. It was a good year for Tuadles and Shell as the franchise, led by ROY/MVP Benjie Paras and sophomore Ronnie Magsanoc, did well in all three conferences, losing though to SMB's grandslam run.

Silverio eventually went back to retirement at the end of the 1989 season and Arlene Rodriguez replaced him as head coach at the start of the 1990 season. Without the father figure in Silverio, Tuadles was like a headless chicken with no sense of satisfaction at the Turbo Chargers camp. But he remained a vital cog with Shell, and was one of the key players responsible for giving Shell its first ever PBA title in that controversy-marred 1990 Open Conference finals that saw Anejo Rum 65 walk out at 2:52 of the 2nd Quarter of Game 6. He was also responsible for giving the karate chop to chief Magsanoc defender Leo Isaac in the semifinals of the same conference that led to Isaac's unavailability in the finals. In the 2nd conference, a lot of fans were surprised to see Tuadles reuniting once more with his Presto/Great Taste teammates. But he was more than a welcome sight for Coach Jimmy Mariano as Tuadles, utilized by Mariano to backstop 1990 season MVP Allan Caidic, became more than just a reserve forward. In Game 7 of the AFC finals between Presto and Purefoods, and with Caidic not playing because of an injury, Tuadles took over and dismantled Purefoods' defense to win the AFC. Tuadles scored 33 points as he ran rings around everyone else - Glenn Capacio, Alvin Patrimonio among others. Tuadles thereby became the first player in the history of the PBA to win two consecutive PBA titles wearing different uniforms. He to date remains the only player to have this distinction.

Tuadles' career though ended with a whimper as he left the scene unceremoniously. His life ended abruptly in 1996 when, in a poker game with Ambet Antonio at San Juan, was shot in the forehead allegedly by the former Games and Amusement Board chairman. 

We will forever miss him...

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