Friday, October 7, 2011


I originally posted this in on June 2, 2005.


The Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) was founded back in the late 1930's as a commercial league that featured not only basketball but also multiple other sports like baseball, football, and the like. The league was made up of different companies that represented various sectors of business. The big names that stood the test of time were the Yco Painters (referring to the paint owned by the Elizaldes), Ysmael Steel (a steel-making business owned by the Ysmaels), Crispa Redmanizers (garments owned by the
Floros), Imperial Textile Mills (garments), Manilabank (a commercial bank owned by the Puyats), Yutivo Opel (a car manufacturer), Komatsu (a heavy equipment company), Meralco (an electric distribution company owned by the Lopezes), San Miguel, (a beer company owned by the Zobels and Sorianos), Talon Zipper (short-lived but whose business thrives in sealing our private parts in our pants), Frigidaire / MAN Diesel (a refrigerator brand and a heavy equipment company owned by the Silverios) Solid Mills (garments owned by the Euyangs), and APCOR (a financing company owned by Herminio Disini). These were mostly the companies that I recall having played at the MICAA during the 60's and 70's.

Much of the success of the MICAA was brought about by the rivalry between the Painters and the Steel Makers. These were two of the most dominating teams in the Philippines back then, as they not only lorded in the MICAA but also in the National Seniors (where even top collegiate basketball schools are invited). The Painters bannered stellar players like Ed Ocampo, Carlos Badion, Robert Jaworski, Johnny Revilla while the Steel Makers had in its fold the fabled shooter Boy Arazas among others. The two teams collectively won 13 titles during the 60's, 6 by the Steelers and 7 by the Painters.

But my personal recollection with the league started in the mid-70's when I started watching and appreciating the game better. When the PBA opened shop in 1975, practically all 9 teams from the MICAA bolted out of the league to get out of the barnacles of one Lito Puyat, who was then the BAP president. Team owners felt that Puyat's high-handed ways in running the BAP, plus his mendicant approach in forming the national basketball team have reached its maximum tolerance, thereby making them form their own league which we now know as the Philippine Basketball Association. Among the MICAA teams, only the Puyat family-owned Manilabank remained in the amateurs.

Hence, in 1976, teams like San Miguel, ITM, Solid Mills, Frigidaire, Yco, Manilabank became the top teams of the league. Solid Mills, a sister team of U/Tex in the PBA, was bannered by former FEU players as their head coach, Turo Valenzona, was running the show in Solid Mills. Leading the team back then were Renato Lobo and Anthony Dasalla, with talents like Rad Pasco, Marte Saldaña, and Hector Calma coming in thereafter. Frigidaire, Toyota's farm team, was bannered by Abe King, Federico Lauchengco, Pablo Javier, Leopoldo Herrera and Emerito Legaspi. ITM had former Mapua players like Romy Mamaril and Israel Catacutan while Manilabank had the eminent Jojo De Guzman, Rudy Hines and later to be joined by 1979 PBA ROY Arnie Tuadles. Tuadles, who was then with the San Miguel Braves alongside fellow Visayans Marlowe Jacutin, Jess Migalbin and Salvador Ramas, eventually joined the Bankers in 1978. Solid Mills won the MICAA tournament in 1976 and 1977 while Frigidaire ruled the roost in 1978.

One super team came out in 1980 with the formation of the APCOR Financiers. Owned by the HERDIS Group of Companies, APCOR got Valenzona as their head coach who took in his players from FEU like Pasco, Saldaña, Rey Obias, Arturo Cristobal, Rey Lazaro, Alex Clariño and other collegiate standouts like Trinity's Zaldy Latoza, Letran's Terry Saldaña, Adamson's Hector Calma, former Frigidaire star Ramon Cruz, former UM Hawk Gary Vargas, and Carlson Samlani. The team dominated the last two years of the MICAA as it won practically every amateur title disputed back then with its star-laden squad oozing with talent.

Eventually, the MICAA folded up in 1981 and the amateur scene became a doldrum scene. It was only in 1984 when things perked up again with the formation of the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL) made up of different commercial teams like ESQ Marketing, San Miguel Lagerlite, among others. Its first MVP was Santiago Cabatu, Jr., who eventually became the first ever top draft pick in the PBA in 1985.

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