Ramon Fernandez, one of the best players ever to suit up in the PBA, attested that the fabled rivalry between the Toyota Super Corollas and the Crispa Redmanizer was so intense that competition went even beyond the playing court.
Fernandez, now acting chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, was part of Toyota's mythical starting 5 that included fellow legends Robert Jaworksi, Francis Arnaiz, Abe King and Arnie Tuadles.
"(Noong panahong 'yun) p'wede kayong matalo sa ibang team, 'wag lang sa Crispa. Sila din naman, matalo na sa ibang team maliban sa Toyota," Fernandez said in "An Eternity of Basketball" virtual interview.
"Maski magkita kami sa mga bars, sa mga disco, para kaming mga manok, hindi muna maglalaban sa umpisa, magigirian muna."
He said each team hung out at separate places to avoid bumping into their rivals.
Toyota players would only use Toyota cars, Fernandez said, while Crispa players would drive Mitsubishi.
"Pagkagaling sa Rizal Memorial Coliseum, pag-uwi South Super Highway ang daan, di ba? Karera hanggang doon," he recalled.
The height of the rivalry was perhaps the rumble between Toyota and Crispa after one of their games in 1977.
That incident landed them in detention at Fort Bonifacio.
"Talagang personalan 'yun. Itanong mo kay Atoy Co (of Crispa). Nasuntok pa ako ni Atoy Co, nu'ng sa rambol namin sa Araneta," Fernandez recalled.
He said both teams were all held in a small room where the Redmanizers positioned themselves near the restroom.
"Pagdating ng around 9 ng gabi, mabaho na du'n," Fernandez quipped.
The tension between the two teams was somewhat eased when players starting sharing jokes.
"Alam mo naman si coach Sonny (Jaworski) napakahilig sa kantyawan," Fernandez said.
"Nu'ng dumalaw 'yung wife ni Tito Varela, I think si Sonny nagsabi, O, Tito, 'yung wig mo dinala.'"
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