How intense was Crispa's rivalry with Toyota in the PBA?
"Tapal King" Philip Cezar said his Redmanizers would rather die than losing against their bitter rival.
"Sobra, totoo ang sinasabi nila (tungkol sa rivalry). Totoo ang sinasabi ni Mon (Fernandez), totoo ang sinasabi ni Atoy (Co)," Cezar said in an interview on "An Eternity of Basketball" Zoomcast.
"Hindi kami naglalaro ng relaxed (against Toyota), di tulad ng iba tatawa tawa lang, 'Yung 'pag natalo OK lang," he said. "Kami mamamatay muna kami bago matalo sa kanila."
It was the intense competition between Crispa and Toyota that popularized PBA in the league's early years.
The 6-foot-2 power forward was part of the Redmanizers squad that included fellow PBA legends Bog Adornado, Abet Guidaben, Bernie Fabiosa and Co.
The Toyota Super Corollas, meanwhile, were made up of Fernandez, Francis Arnaiz, Danny Florencio, Abe King and Robert Jaworski.
Crispa and Toyota dominated the PBA from 1975 to 1983, winning 21 out of the possible 26 PBA titles of those seasons.
At one time, the two teams even figured in a post-game rumble at Araneta Coliseum. As a result, players from both sides were detained at Fort Bonifacio.
The Redmanizers took home PBA 2 Grand Slams, eventually topping their counterparts from the Super Corollas.
"As simple as 'pag nagpunta ng disco noong araw (contest pa rin kami)," said Cezar. "Kailangan mauna kami kesa mauna sila, kundi di na kami tutuloy 'pag nauna sa loob."
"Kaya 'pag nagkasabay (kami sa disco), mauna lang kami sa pinto okay na e."
Cezar said their love for the team and sheer support from their fans fueled the tug-of-war.
"No. 1 talagan ang fans. Malakas ang impluwensya ng fans. At 'yung pagmamahal namin sa team," he said.
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