How feverish was the rivalry of Crispa-Toyota?
Early encounters between these two protagonists showed how heated every game was, as on this day, May 11, 1975 – a day after the first match between the Redmanizers and the Comets – Oscar Rocha, the acknowledged bad boy of the Toyota side, was slapped a hefty fine and suspension from league commissioner Leo Prieto for hitting the Crispa ace guard Bernie Fabiosa.
The Redmanizers won 139-133, as seven Crispa players finished in double figures.
Bogs Adornado led the way with 29 points followed by Atoy Co with 24. Philip Cezar contributed 22 points while Fabiosa had 16. Rudy Soriano tallied 15 and Abet Guidaben chipped in 11 in a display of balance firepower for Crispa.
But the punching incident overshadowed the Redmanizers’ victory over the Comets with Rocha receiving the heftiest infraction.
Rocha received a month-long suspension and was fined P500.
A report by Bulletin Today recounted Rocha’s action when he punched Fabiosa and sent the spitfire Crispa guard to the floor.
Prieto explained that the fine would have been stiffer had a riot escalated during the match.
Fabiosa, himself, was not spared of a fine as he was slapped a P50 penalty while Cristino Reynoso of Toyota was also fined P25 for flashing a dirty finger.
In an early interview with this writer, Fabiosa, named to the PBA’s first 25 Greatest Players of All-Time, described the level of play back in the old days, especially during a Crispa-Toyota encounter.
“Ang game naming nu’ng araw, pisikal,” Fabiosa said. “Ang players nu’ng araw, may kani-kaniyang style. May style na pipikunin mo yung kalaban mo para masira ’yung laro. Hindi naman yung talagang sinasadya.”
“Nu’ng araw kasi, hindi pupuwede ’yung pa-baby, baby ka. Kailangan balikan mo rin. Hindi pupuwede ’yung gugulat-gulatin mo ko, gugulatin rin kita,” added Fabiosa. “Once na magpadala ka sa gulat, walang mangyayari sa iyo. Kailangan lumaban ka.”
Rocha and Fabiosa would be involved in a few more altercations throughout their respective careers and the two would meet again during the Crispa-Toyota reunion game won by the Tamaraws, 65-61, in 2003.
With more grayish hair and age catching up on the players, the two teams played only for nostalgia’s sake, but Rocha remained competitive as ever and even got involved in a near altercation with Crispa center Abet Guidaben.