The iconic Crispa Redmanizers made history on this day in 1976, capturing the PBA’s first grand slam by virtue of its Game 5 rout of arch rival Toyota to rule the season-ending All-Philippine Championship.

Atoy Co’s 39 points proved to be the difference maker as the Redmanizers became the first team to come back from a 0-2 deficit and win a best-of-five championship series.

The following is a game story written by Ding Marcelo for the Dec. 22, 1976 issue of Bulletin Today.

Crispa tops Toyota, wins grand slam

Crispa’s never-say-die Redmanizers added another first in their glorious history last night as they destroyed Toyota with compelling ease, 110-92, to win the All-Philippine championship and complete a sweep of all Philippine Basketball Association titles this year.

Crispa’s victory, their third straight in the best-of-five series, climaxed a long, excruciating climb by the Redmanizers who, aside from scoring the PBA’s first grand slam, also became the first team in the two-year-old league to win a title coming from two games down.

A dazzling offensive complemented by a crippling, swarming defense gave the Redmanizers the edge all evening as both teams were initially hampered by the tremendous pressure of the match, missing easy shots and committing ghastly errors in alarming succession to the surprise of some 25,000 spectators at the Araneta Coliseum.

All Redmanizers responded brilliantly, even tiny Cristino Calilan who contributed immensely to the victory after sitting out the preceding three games of the series. But the night truly belong to Fortunato Co, Jr.

The one-time Mapua Tech standout who played under the shadows of William Adornado, now sidelined by injury, spewed the deadliest fire, banging in 39 points, as he led the Crispa scoring juggernaut.

Co, who attributed his fine form to a strong of discipline “as compared in the past,” wrought the greatest havoc on the Toyota defense, routing three guards assigned to him, including Robert Jaworski and Francis Arnaiz who both fouled out. Even coach Dante Silverio admitted later that Co “was a major problem.”

Co’s 39 points brought his total to 159 points in the series – an average of 31.80 points per game. He shot 20 points in the first game, 41 in the second, 34 in the third and 25 in the fourth.

So confident were the Redmanizers that banners proclaiming them champions were unfurled with still more than a minute left and jubilant team members were already hugging each other in anticipation of the victory, not to mention team manager Danny Floro and coach Baby Dalupan who embraced each other.

“We were prepared and we really played hard to win,” said Dalupan whose wizardry with his boys produced gems even with the likes of Calilan and Alberto Guidaben. And he so inspired Bernard Fabiosa that the Crispa spitfire also came out with another dazzling performance despite a sprained suffered the evening before for which he used pain-killing injections to deaden the pain.

It was the fourth straight championship for Crispa after giving up the first two to Toyota. And the experts are wondering whether there will be another fields for the Redmanizers to conquer. After all, the team just about set another record that will take some time to equal or surpass.

Coach Silverio admitted his team’s offensive weakness and said, “We have nothing to compensate for it.”

“They really are a good team,” he said. “and they deserved to win.”

“We had the open shots, maybe we had more attempts. But we missed a lot and this spelled the difference,” Silverio noted.

Francis Arnaiz on whose shoulders many had hoped for a Toyota comeback, likewise admitted the superiority of the Redmanizers. He cited Co and Cyrus Mann in particular.

“He’s (Mann) so intimidating, you really had to think twice before making a move. Mann practically controls the whole keyhole area,” said Arnaiz who lost the battle for the series’ most valuable player to Co in this particular match.

Co’s worthiness for the award found example in the dying minutes of the second quarter when he rattled six straight points to give Crispa an 11-point spread at the half, 51-40.

Though the Tamaraws came back strong early in the third quarter with eight successive points to narrow the gap at 48-51, the Redmanizers did not panic and returned five with a 9-2 salvo that gave them another 10-point lead as quickly, 60-50.

From there, it was a matter of answering the Tamaraws basket for basket and this the Redmanizers did until that fateful last two minutes when the Tams, demoralized by the impending defeat, lowered their guards completely, allowing Crispa to score their biggest winning margin against their arch-rivals in the series, an 18-pointer, that completely removed all the trimmings of a championship match.

Source: Manila Bulletin (