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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Greatest PBA Games


1. Game 7 of the 1991 Open Conference Finals
Outcome - Ginebra 104 Shell 102

The protagonists - Ginebra San Miguel and Formula Shell Rimula-X. Two of the most bitter rivals especially after then AƱejo Rhum walked out of the previous year's tumultous Game 6, practically handing the silver platter to the Oilers. After 4 games, Shell was comfortably ahead, 3-1, needing just a win to repeat its victory and prove to all that the previous year's championship was no fluke. But Ginebra shocked the fans with two scintillating victories (including a rout in Game 5) to tie the series and forcing a rubber match. 

And Game 7 proved to be the biggest game of all - arguably the biggest as well in PBA history. With 4 seconds remaining, the game tied at 102-all and Ginebra inbounding from their own baseline, Robert Jaworski whipped a pass to Rudy Distrito after the latter was given twin picks by his teammates to set himself free. Distrito took a short jumper from 10 feet, but not without having to bend his entire body and practically shooting lying down to defy the outstretched arms of Benjie Paras. The ball swished the hoops with just over a second left in the game. Bedlam and pandemonium ensued in the coliseum while both teams mapped out their strategies in the last second of the game. Ronnie Magsanoc got a screen and took a 3-point shot but his attempt was swatted by Ginebra import Jervis Cole to preserve the victory for the Gins, 104-102.

2. Game 5 of the 1980 Open Conference Finals
Outcome: U/Tex 99 Toyota 98

The protagonists - the Toyota Tamaraws versus the U/Tex Wranglers. U/Tex once more succeeded in breaking the stranglehold that Toyota and arch rivals, the Crispa Redmanizers when it comes to barging to the finals. They first did the trick in 1977 and won their first title in 1978. But the 1980 Open Conference became more unforgettable especially after an epic Game 5 duel that was complete with drama, excitement, histrionics, and the like.

With 16 seconds remaining in regulation and Toyota ahead by 4, U/Tex import Aaron James knocked in an 18 foot jumper to bring down Toyota's lead to two points, 94-92, time down to 11 seconds left. A quick inbound led to a major turnover by the Tamaraws from an errant pass by Arnie Tuadles that was intercepted by other U/Tex import Glenn McDonald. McDonald was fouled by Francis Arnaiz in an effort to stop the fastbreak play, forgetting that the Tamaraws were already in penalty. McDonald stepped into the foul line, made two for two and tied the game, leading to OT. 

In overtime, both teams played nervously and became extra particular in defense while struggling due to exhaustion. U/Tex won the game in OT, 99-98.

3. Game 2 of the 1986 Open Conference Finals
Outcome: Ginebra San Miguel 132 Manila Beer 130

One of the most incredible and exciting ending in a finals game and you had no one else like the Black Superman, Billy Ray Bates, completing the feat. With the game tied at 130 apiece, time down to 20 seconds left and Manila Beer having possession, the offense was basically a Harold Keeling - Michael Young combination as the two passed the ball amongst themselves as they tried to look for an open shot. With less than 8 seconds remaining, Young attempted a jumper from the right flank only to see the ball rim out of the hoop. Jaworski secured the rebound, and like a man possessed, dribbled the ball from court to court, and Bates sealed the fastbreak with a resounding monster dunk just when the buzzer sounded. 

A slight commotion ensued after as both teams waited for the referees to make a decision on whether the shot was counted or not. When Bates' dunk was given the green light by the officials (after conferring with the technical committee), Ginebra won Game 2 to widen their lead in the series 2-0. They eventually won the Best of 7 series in five games.

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