This Day in PBA History: Cezar banned 3 games, fined for punching Fernandez

Rey Joble

Posted at Jul 03 2022 10:05 PM

Even great players have their own mean-street character, a side that Crispa star forward Philip Cezar showed when he punched bitter rival Ramon Fernandez in the closing stage of the semifinal round of the 1976 PBA All-Filipino Conference.

Cezar punched Fernandez during their last encounter prior to the start of their best-of-five finals after the Comets outlasted the Redmanizers, 103-101.

Newspaper accounts reported that the game was virtually decided as Toyota took a 102-95 lead with only 1:30 left, but Fernandez was acting on trying to trip his counterpart.

On the return play, Cezar swung at Fernandez, who was hit on the mouth and went down hard, as referee Jess Obias decided to throw the Crispa stalwart out of the game.

Because of the incident, Cezar was forced to miss the first three games of the Redmanizers’ game against Comets.

Late in 1975, Cezar was also given a four-month suspension, also for hitting Fernandez in the All-Philippine best-of-five championship series.

But Year 1976 was Crispa’s launch for a back-to-back championship. The previous season, the Redmanizers denied the Comets a grand slam by winning the Third Conference.

Long-time Crispa teammates Bernie Fabiosa and Bogs Adornado recalled how the undermanned Redmanizers were able to grind it out without Cezar for the first three games and the team even had to field in injured players just to avoid being forfeited in the game.

“Nu’ng second year nu’ng PBA, All-Filipino lang ako naglaro. So depressing talaga kapag na-injured ka – ACL and MCL. Matagal akong naghintay bago operahan,” said Adornado. “At that time, wala pang MRI, kaya natagalan ako. Dati, kapag nagkaroon ka ng knee injury, it’s the end of your career.”

But Adornado, who was adjudged Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, had another brilliant campaign for the Redmanizers.

Adornado averaged 30.25 points during the finals series .

Fabiosa was one among those sidelined by injuries. He joined Tito Varela, who suffered a fractured nose, and Virgilio dela Cruz, who had a heart ailment.

Aside from Cezar, Rey Franco was also serving a three-game suspension, thus reducing the Redmanizers to eight players.

In Game 3, Fabiosa, who was hurting his left knee, was forced to play on the required eight-man roster from the bench for Crispa to avoid forfeiture and contributed 10 points in a 121-114 triumph to move within striking distance of winning their second championship.

“ ’Yung ugali namin nung araw, kunyari ako may injury ako, mas nagpupursige kami. Ako, sinundo ako sa ospital para maglaro. Naalala ko ’yun nasa ospital ako nu’ng araw. Nag-fast break si Francis (Arnaiz), hinabol ko. Pag harap ko, biglang nag-twist ’yung tuhod ko. Konti lang naman, pero medyo masakit. Nagpa-ospital ako,” said Fabiosa.

“Nangyari nga, nabansagan pa kaming Magnificent Seven. Nanalo kami noon. Nadala namin. Ganun kami kalakas dati.”

By the fourth game, Cezar returned and “The Scholar” quickly made his presence felt and contributed 14 markers as the Redmanizers completed the back-to-back championships.