Sporting the body frame of a boxer, Michael Hackett didn’t figure to be an athletic ball player.
From the way he ran to the way he played, Hackett did not have the showmanship that could entertain fans.
He looked more like great boxing champion Joe Louis, but he brought a great upper body strength that was enough for him to make a living, scoring at will inside the shaded lane.
As for entertainment? He played for the league’s most popular team, Ginebra San Miguel, so every basket no matter what it looked like, drew cheers for its legions of diehards.
But on this day, November 21, 1985, during Game 1 of the battle-for-3rd series between Ginebra and Great Taste, Hackett was unstoppable, setting the record for the most points scored by any PBA player in a game.
The Best Import of the 1985 Third Conference scored 103 points, a record he held until Tony Harris broke the single-game record for most points 7 years later.
Norman Black, then playing for Magnolia, ranked Hackett as among the top 5 greatest reinforcements he has ever played against.
“I think Michael Hackett should be included in my top-5 list of greatest imports. He’s strong, around 245 pounds, so he’s 20 pounds heavier than me and I have to get very low to try to push him around the basket,” Black told ABS-CBN. “But I wish I have the upper body strength of Hackett. He’s so efficient when he’s at the low block that he’s almost unstoppable when he gets t his sweet spot.”
According to Black, Hackett’s playing style was deceiving as some might not consider him athletic.
“The term athletic is underrated. You won’t be able to get more rebounds if you’re not athletic,” added Black. “He doesn’t have the athleticism, say like a Billy Ray Bates, but he can surely get up there to grab the rebounds.”
True enough, 3 days after posting the record for most points in a game, Hackett established the single-game record in rebounding at 45 during the second game of their battle for third against Great Taste.
Alvin Patrimonio, then an aspiring PBA player and a collegiate standout, couldn’t help but emulate Hackett’s rebounding prowess.
“Mahirap ’yung maka-score ng 103 points and kumuha ng 45 rebounds in a game,” Patrimonio said.
The following season, Patrmonio, then playing for guest team national squad, carrying the team Magnolia Quench Plus, was able to play against Hackett and found out for himself how powerful “The Mighty Bucket” was.
Allan Caidic played for the Northern Consolidated team in 1985, the first local guest team to win a PBA championship and on the same tournament in the PBA Reinforced Conference, witnessed how great of an import Michael Hackett was.
“Michael is one of the smartest imports I’ve played against,” wrote Caidic in an interview via Messenger. “He’s not that quick nor athletic, but he knows very well how to use his strength to score inside.”
Ricky Relosa had the pleasure of playing alongside Hackett in 1985 and also had the privilege of defending against the burly import when the former Toyota player moved to Alaska the following season.
“Magaling gumamit ng katawan yan sa ilalim, kaya lang huli ko laro niyan,” added Relosa, who became the other half of the Bruise Brothers tandem with Yoyoy Villamin during the 1980s.
Rey Joble is a sports journalist who has been covering the PBA since 1998, and followed the league as a fan way before that.