When Ricardo Brown burst onto the PBA scene in 1983, basketball purists immediately saw the birth of a new scoring machine in the country’s premier cage league.
“The Quick Brown Fox” became the second rookie after Arnie Tuadles to immediately crack the Mythical First Team, joining eventual MVP Abet Guidaben, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co and Great Taste teammate William “Bogs” Adornado.
It was only a matter of time before he assumed the role as the team’s top gun.
By his second season, Brown has averaged 27.65 points and joined forces with Adornado, who was then averaging 23.53 points per game, in leading the charge for the Great Taste Coffee Makers.
With Brown and Adornado leading the charge, the Coffee Makers went on to win two championships that season.
In 1985, Brown took over the scoring chores and much was expected on him, especially after Adornado transferred to Shell, the franchise which acquired the Crispa Redmanizers.
But 1985 was a banner year for Brown and it turned out to be his MVP season. One of the games which stood out as probably the best game of his career happened on this day, November 24, 1985, during Game 2 of the battle for third series against Ginebra, won by the Gin Kings, 135-133.
Brown knocked in 41 first half points, the most by a local player, on his way to ending with 57 points.
Jimmy Manansala and Joel Banal, who played with Brown at Great Taste, recalled how both of them felt motivated to play at a higher level because of the Fil-Am standout.
“Challenging para sa akin yung Great Taste, kasi ang galing ng point guard namin, si Ricardo Brown. Minsan nagsasabay kami sa loob ni Ricardo Brown, parehas kaming shooter, so mahirap gwardiyahan kaming pareho,” said Manansala, a former Rookie of the Year in the PBA.
Banal, on the other hand, felt he had to make some sacrifices just to keep Brown and the other scorers on the team happy.
“Kung gusto mong manalo, kailangan mong mag-sakripisyo. Ayaw mong makigulo kina Ricardo Brown sa opensa. You want to set the table for them. Masarap ’yung practice namin kasi ang lakas ng team. ’Yung practice namin talagang masaya kami, nagi-enjoy kami. Hindi mo masabi sino’ng mananalo sa scrimmages namin,” said Banal.
But Banal and Manansala recalled how they triggered Brown’s motivation even more by playing extra aggressive against the Fil-Am player during their practices.
“Sa practice, kaya kami gumagaling, bakbakan kami sa practice. Natatandaan ko, si Ricardo Brown, kaya siya gumaling nang gumaling, ang ginagawa namin ni Jimmy Manansala, pagtutulungan namin. Ipi-pressure siya ni Jimmy tapos ang gagawin ko hindi ko babantayan ko bantay ko kasi tutulungan ko si Jimmy. Sa practice pa lang napipikon na sa amin si Ricardo,” said Banal.
Manansala agreed with Banal’s recollection.
“Sinasaktan talaga namin si Ricardo Brown. Bugbugan kami sa ensayo,” added Manasala.
It helped Brown to elevate his game several notches higher and true enough, he became the league’s MVP in just his third season.
Brown played in Great Taste’s five championship teams under “The Maestro” Baby Dalupan, then transferred to San Miguel Beer where he also won five titles, including the grand slam in 1989.
After eight seasons playing in the PBA, Brown retired having the best scoring averages among local players with 23.1 points per game as well as in assists averages, making 7.1 assists per game.
Brown also retired as the most consistent free-throw shooter, averaging 87.6-percent shooting from the foul line. He was also included in the league’s Hall of Fame while also named to the PBA’s 25 and 40 Greatest Players’ list.
Rey Joble is a sports journalist who has been covering the PBA since 1998, and followed the league as a fan way before that.