PBA: Catching up with Carlos Briggs, the guy who averaged 62 points a game

Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2017 08:44 PM

In a story that appeared in Manila Bulletin in December 1989, Carlos Briggs (right) accepts the Best Import plaque from former PBA commissioner Rudy Salud. "You know you have to score but you have to let the game come to you," Briggs said.

MANILA -- Any discussion about PBA records that will never be broken isn't complete without mentioning Carlos Briggs.

The 6-foot guard's name should ring a bell to anyone who followed the league in the late 1980s, especially Ginebra fans. To those unfamiliar, the only description that matters is this: he averaged 62 points per game in a conference.

Let that sink in.

"I scored a lot when I came out of junior college. In high school, I averaged 30 plus a game. In junior college, I averaged 30 plus a game. In Division 1, I averaged 20 plus. I didn't expect to score like that," Briggs said in a phone interview from Athens, Texas.

"I just happened to be on a team that was aging a little bit and they needed me to do a little bit more. We had Rudy Distrito and (Philip) Cezar, coach (Sonny) Jaworski and we would talk about 'We need you to do a little more.'"

To illustrate how mind-boggling Briggs' feat is, no player local or foreign has scored 60 in a single game in the PBA in more than 15 years. The highest scoring average by an import in the 2014-15 season was by Kia's Peter John Ramos at 35.9 points.

Briggs also owns the fourth highest single-game point total with 89 points, which came in a 142-133 loss to San Miguel on November 12, 1989.

When he was done with the PBA, he became the only player to ever score at least 80 points in a game thrice. (Three years later in 1992, Tony Harris would break that mark, scoring 80-plus points 4 times.)

Briggs carried Ginebra all the way to the 1989 Reinforced Conference finals, where they lost to San Miguel, 4-1. He didn't go home empty-handed, as he won Best Import.

Since Briggs retired, he has coached in different school levels in the US, but his playing days in Manila occupy a special place in his heart.

"Añejo Rhum (what Ginebra was called at the time) had the best fans in the world and, of course, the Philippines," he said. 

"(Winning) was just something you wanted to do for them. You wanted to win for the passionate Añejo Rhum fans. I'll never forget that."

On his best memories

Just playing in the ULTRA (now the PhilSports Arena) with all the fans and how they supported basketball. It was unbelievable. Just being from the United States and seeing how popular basketball was back there. It was the best memory I have. I didn't know there was something like that. 

On Ginebra

It's funny because, I get to our first practice, I look around and I say to myself, "These guys are old." But we had guys that had high IQ, we had guys that had toughness and guys that had the passion to win. And they would compete. I'd rather be on that team than any other team.

I remember Rudy Distrito. He was little, but he was tough as nails. Going up against him in practice everyday just helps you get better. Cezar was about 6-3, 6-4, but he was a guy that could do a little bit of everything. He was a guy who can handle the ball, slide and cut, be a good defender. Going up against those guys everyday made you better. One thing people don't realize was were a physical team, too. 

They were enforcers, but they were all on my team so I really didn't worry when I need help out there. Somebody really fouled me hard . . . I didn't really understand the language too much but they understood mine and they'd look at me and say, "Don't worry I got it." I knew. 

On the 89-point game

I knew I had to score to give us a chance to win but it was one of those games where you were just trying to win. You're doing anything to try to win the basketball game. And they were scoring and we were scoring. And we had to continue to keep scoring. The nice thing was the team was giving me the basketball in the right spot and one day you're just making almost everything. 

On whether his players now know about his scoring feats

It's funny that you say that. Everywhere I coached, a kid on the team, because now with Google and everything, they have access to archives. One person would come and go, "Coach, you averaged 63 points a game in the Philippines. C'mon, man. Firstly, how small were the players? Back then, they weren't as tall as now. I think our tallest guy was 6-foot-7. One of the tallest guys back then was Benjie Paras. Players are going to ask me questions about my experience and how the talent was there. I always tell them that when you're the one import on the team, you're expected to do more. The most important thing was trying to win a championship. 

On the physical style of play

Physicality in the sense that, hard fouls, which is something you expect in basketball. Sometimes it went beyond that with the tripping, kicking a guy when he's down. I'll never forget one time in the championship we were playing San Miguel. I go to the basket and I get hit and I fall right on the baseline where the crowd is. And I'll never forget getting kicked by an old lady and I was like, "Wow." I don't think you'd get that over here (in the US). 

On Sonny Jaworski

I think my relationship with him made me a better coach, a better person. One thing about him was his drive to be the best, the drive to win. I still play basketball. Just seeing how he played in his age. You can see a lot of times his body was breaking down. You go, "Wow, this guy is still going out there, competing." 

On having a scorer's mentality

You know you have to score but you have to let the game come to you. You can't go out with the mindset that I'm a sure the ball every time. You have to have the mindset of, "I'm going to shoot good shots, open shots."

I think it has to do with my team. They know the spot where to give me the basketball. It has something to do with the coach, the coaching staff putting the game plan together, seeing my strengths and weaknesses. That helps.

I really believe our practices with coach Jaworski were a lot more physical and tougher. We had 2 or 3 days more practice which enhanced our conditioning. I think that really helps to pay off where I could score more points because I was probably in the best shape of my life back then. 

(This interview was conducted in July 2015, but is being shared to the public for the first time. Statistics are courtesy of "Hardcourt: The Official PBA Annual.")

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