Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crispa - 1975-77

Some points I remember from circa 1975-1977:

1. Pete Crotty and Johnny Burks were a coffee-cream import combine of Crispa. Crotty, the caucasian one was 6'9 to the African-American Burks who was 6'6. While Burks was relatively athletic, Crotty was a gangling center that couldn't seem to get his Toyota counterpart Byron Snake Jones from his sweet spot. Crispa was also in a disadvantage since Burks was relatively shorter than his opponents (Stan Cherry was 6'8, Carl Bird was 6'8, Jones was 6'9). Good thing the Redmanizers were able to stop the Comets from winning what possibly could have been the first grandslam in league history.

2. While I've always believed that Cyrus Mann was the best center ever to play in the league (I regarded Andy Fields as the best power forward, Carlos Terry as the best small forward, Billy Ray Bates at offguard and Tony Harris at the point), he was also the main instrument for Crispa's grandslam success in 1976. He and fellow import Bill Bunton couldn't play together and Mann normally took up 30-35 minutes per game with Bunton relieving him. Mann was so dominant that Jones, who was 1975's most dominant important, didn't hold a candle against him. It would have been nice to see Mann go up against Fields when both were at their peak conditions (Fields was at his best in 1981 and 1982) but then, we'll never know who could really have been better.

3. One of my most memorable recollections of Atoy Co was his patented left handed jumpshot from the arc. This was the only guy capable of running a break and finishing it not with a layup but with a jumper from 20 feet out. His shooting accuracy was truly a marvel to witness, and I considered him then as the 2nd best shooter (Adornado remained to be the best in my books). During the time when long-tom artists were the fashion statements (players like Botchok Delos Santos, Jun Papa, Lim Eng Beng were just some of the finest shooters we had back then), this recognition of Co should be treated highly.

4. Ricky Hicks was probably the most pathetic excuse for an import in Crispa's history. This guy was just awful as he couldn't do anything right for the team, averaging within the 10-12 point range and more often than not ended up in single digits. Good thing Crispa didn't need too much of an offensive import back then, and with Mann in the middle, they still were dominant. Good thing the 6'7 Chris McMurray was still in town back then after a brief stint with the Uncolas of 7/Up. Though not exactly in the caliber of Toyota's John Irving, he was at least not a lemon.

5. Baby Dalupan would probably be acknowledged by my friend Percy as the best coach of the PBA bar none. Although I disagree with him in this regard, he has basis for his opinion. His biggest strength was his eye for local talent, and his ability to use these talents and mesh them together effectively. But while Dalupan knew his locals well, it wasn't the same with some of his imports. Over the years, Crispa was mired with lemon imports, the first being Crotty, then Hicks. McMurray and Bernard Harris, who suited up for Crispa in the 1978 season after a sojourn with Tanduay, were quite effective but not exactly goldmine talents. Original finds like Irving Chatmann, Clarence Kea, Kirk Gibson, etc. were some of the reasons why Crispa failed to secure titles in import-laced conferences as well as Toyota's. They had some degree of success with Glenn Hagan, Al Green (he powered Crispa to the very 1st Reinforced Conference crown in 1981), and James Hardy (another personal favorite who played for them in 1981) but overall, their import choices were duds. Sylvester Cuyler and Glenn Mosley, Crispa's reinforcements in the 1979 season, were quite average but never got to propel the team to a championship.

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