This Day in PBA History: Great Taste downs Shell to win All-Filipino championship

Rey Joble

Posted at Aug 20 2022 12:52 PM

As early as the 1983 PBA season when Crispa and Toyota were at the twilight of their respective PBA campaigns, a new emerging powerhouse made its presence felt as the next dynasty in Asia's pioneering professional basketball league.

Great Taste Coffee of the Gokongwei Family turned its once doormat image and put together a formidable squad.

The team had made major acquisitions of some of the key players from other squads led by three-time Most Valuable Player Bogs Adornado, Frankie Lim and Jimmy Manansala from Tanduay, and its biggest addition — super rookie Ricardo Brown. Great Taste also added a few more pieces in Abe King, the late Arnie Tuadles, Chito Loyzaga and Willie Pearson to name a few. 

For two seasons — 1984 and 1985 — it became the most dominant team in the PBA.
In the 1983 PBA season, the team then known as the Discoverers, cracked both import-laden conferences finals when the franchise was reinforced by Norman Black and teamed up with Dawane Scott in the season-ending Open Conference.

Great Taste finished runner-up to grand slam champion Crispa Redmanizers in both conferences, but fans saw right there and then the potential of the team to dominate in the PBA.

And dominating is what the team did, especially when Crispa and Toyota left the pro league.

By 1984, Great Taste made it known to Crispa, then the winningest team in the PBA, there was a new sheriff in town.

Twice during that season, the team now known as the Coffee Makers would be become the new emerging power of the PBA.

After watching Crispa winning the first All-Filipino tournament, Great Taste bounced back strong and went on to bag its first championship in the pro league by winning the second All-Filipino title with a dominant three-game sweep of the Beer Hausen Brewmasters in their best-of-five championship series.

Then came the passing of the torch, which happened in the season-ending Invitational Championship, an import-laden tournament as Great Taste ended the reign of the Redmanizers and the dawn of a new era began in the pro league.

"I always have that kind of motivation (of winning), maski sinong kalaban," said Adornado, who averaged 24.78 points per game during the 1984 season and led his team in scoring averages.

Lim, who moved from YCO Tanduay to Great Taste along with long-time teammate Manansala, added depth to the Coffee Makers.

"Malakas. Ang tawag nga namin first 10, hindi first five," Lim told ABS-CBN News. "Para sa akin, ’yun ’yung highlight nu’ng two years kong paglalaro sa Great Taste because I was included in a very, very talented team."

Manansala could only agree.

"Very challenging rin sa akin ’yung Great Taste na ’yun, kasi ang galing ng mga point guards namin. And’yan si Ricardo Brown, and’yan si Frankie. Minsan, nagasasabay kami sa loob ni Ricardo Brown. Pareho kaming shooter, pareho kaming nagdadala ng bola. Mahirap kaming gwardyahan pareho," added Manansala.

Then, there was the resident stars of the team. But one player who had definitely improved by leaps and bounds was Manny Victorino, who won the Most Improved Player of the Year in 1984.

Victorino joined Brown in the Mythical First Team in 1984 while Adornado cracked Second Team. The following season, three Great Taste players were able to make it to the Mythical First Team — Victorino, newly acquired star Pearson and eventual MVP Brown — while KIng, also a new recruit, made it to the Second Team.

On this day, 37 years ago on August 20, 1985, Great Taste faced its former top gun, Adornado, who brought his scoring prowess to new team Shell, and the Coffee Makers asserted their dominance by winning the All-Filipino championship, 3-1.

The Shell Azodrin Bug Busters, composed mostly of stars from Crispa, plus Rey Lazaro and rookies Leo Austria and Sonny Cabatu, salvaged a 103-102 victory in Game 3, but in the fourth game of the best-of-five championship series, the Coffee Makers made sure they will be able to stamp their class.

Great Taste outscored Shell, 35-14, in the second period, and there's no turning back from the Coffee Makers right there and then. Brown unloaded 15 second-quarter points, leading his team to pull away and helping the squad in winning its fourth straight championship.

A new dynasty was born in the PBA.