Philippine Sports History: Last Hurrah for Crispa-Toyota PBA rivalry

Published July 25, 2020, 7:04 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Bouncing back from being on the losing end of one of the PBA’s most memorable games was what motivated import Andy Fields when he helped Toyota beat Crispa for the PBA Open Conference title on this day in 1981.

“That was a revenge game for me,” Fields said when he appeared in one of the recent episodes of “An Eternity of Basketball” to retell the events that enabled him to lead the Super Diesels past the Redmanizers 103-97 before a crowd of 30,000 on July 25, 1981 at the Araneta Coliseum.

Toyota’s victory would turn out to be the 10th and last duel between the PBA’s greatest rivalry as the two fabled squads folded in separate years during the mid-80s.

Fields produced 18 points, capped off by a three-point play off a foul by Crispa import James Hardy with 1:29 remaining in the payoff period that sealed the final count.

It was sweet redemption for Fields, who in the 1980 Open Conference endured the agony of defeat after Toyota wasted a golden opportunity of winning the title by squandering a four-point lead with 16 seconds left in regulation before losing 99-98 in overtime against U-Tex.

Determined, Fields made sure that the Open crown would be secured by Toyota.

“My focus that whole season was nothing but to get back to winning a championship,” said Fields, who was 24 at the time when he suited up for Toyota in PBA ’81.

Toyota made it to the four-team semifinals after going 12-6 in the elims before arranging the title showdown with Crispa by winning five of six in the round-robin stage.

The Super Diesels took the first game 123-116 but dropped the next two after the Redmanizers prevailed 126-124 and 126-116. Coach Ed Ocampo’s wards prevented defeat by forcing a deciding fifth game 116-98 with Fields dropping 26 points.

Fields teamed up with Victor King to outplay their Crispa counterparts Hardy and former Toyota import Byron “Snake” Jones to anchor Toyota’s attack.

Ramon Fernandez topscored with 20 points while the Super Diesels also got a big lift from Nick Bulaong, who scored 13. Ocampo later praised Bulaong and his second unit for stepping up when it mattered.

“The big factor was the tremendous development and confidence of my shock absorbers,” Ocampo said as quoted by the Bulletin game story written by Philip Evardone.

Fernandez broke the ice with over three minutes left, hitting one off rival Philip Cezar for 99-97 then sank a technical free throw when Crispa’s Atoy Co was slapped a technical foul by NBA referees James Capers and Lee Jones, who were tapped by the league to officiate the series.

Redmanizers coach Baby Dalupan later lamented that the technical foul on Co hurt Crispa’s chances.

“The technical foul on Atoy I think cost us the game. Parang nawalan na nang gana at fighting spirit pagkatapos ng tawag na ‘yon,” said Dalupan.

Fields got the rebound off a miss by a Toyota teammate before getting fouled by Hardy for the decisive three-point play that sent the Super Diesels faithful in a frenzy. Fields was later named Best Import after steering the Delta Motors franchise to its seventh title.

“If you can imagine what adrenaline that was going through me at the time when we beat them,” Fields said.

Fields would play two more seasons with Toyota before taking his talents in Europe. The 63-year-old currently works for the State of New Jersey.