Hardcore fans of eighties and nineties basketball were in for a Sunday treat.
Legendary players from PBA teams San Miguel, Alaska, Ginebra and Purefoods took the court for a worthy cause in UNTV’s “Return of the Rivals” held at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
A pair of exhibition matches held inside the fabled Cubao sporting venue pitted the Beermen against the Milkmen in the curtain-raiser, while the protagonists of the “Manila Clasico” clashed in the main game. The project aimed to raise funds for the PBA Legends Foundation Incorporated, an organization that looks after the welfare of retired professional basketball players in dire straits.
The San Miguel Beermen, behind Allan Caidic, Denok Miranda, Danny Ildefonso and Dondon Hontiveros, unloaded the greater part of their offensive firepower in the second half to claim a 96-83 win over Alaska in the opener. Down by eight points at the half, the Beermen outgunned the Milkmen 64-43 in the third and fourth quarters en route to a masterful victory.
Ildefonso and Hontiveros closed out the third with a pair of two-pointers to complete a rally from ten points down, giving the Beermen a 62-59 advantage heading into the payoff period.
Then in the fourth quarter, “The Triggerman” caught fire and decided to empty the barrel.
After a game-tying three-pointer by Willie Miller at the 6:06 mark of the said period, the Beermen retaliated with a 13-1 run that took the fight out of the Milkmen. With 2:04 remaining in the ballgame, the 1990 PBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) sank a back-breaking triple in transition– his fourth of the quarter – which gave the Beermen a 91-79 headway.
Caidic was adjudged as the Best Player of the Game behind his 26-point performance, spiked by six three-pointers out of 14 attempts. Miranda, the youngest participant amongst the two clubs, tallied 17 points, four rebounds and four assists. Ildefonso and Hontiveros chipped in 14 and 11 markers respectively.
Miller, a two-time PBA MVP, paced Alaska with 20 points on 7-of-18 (38%) shooting from the field. Johnny Abarrientos, the 1996 MVP, finished with a double-double showing consisting of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Legendary coach Pilo Pumaren manned the sidelines for San Miguel along with Jong Uichico, who served as his deputy. Alaska tapped Joel Banal as its head coach for the contest, while Aric Del Rosario filled in as his assistant.
In the nightcap, Barangay Ginebra proved steady in the second half to annex a 97-89 decision over Purefoods.
With the game tied at 38 at the half, Vince Hizon and Noli Locsin spearheaded a Ginebra uprising in the third quarter, in which they outscored Purefoods 39-28. “The Prince” dropped three three-point bombs in the said frame while “The Tank” operated on the inside to give the league favorites a much-needed separation from their rivals.
In the final frame, Roger Yap and Tony Boy Espinosa willed Purefoods to a last-ditch rally, only to be foiled by the timely hits of Jayjay Helterbrand, Marlou Aquino and Bal David.
Helterbrand, the 2009 MVP, capped off the night with a triple-double made up of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Hizon, who shot 4-of-9 (44%) from beyond the arc, contributed 19 markers along with nine boards. The troika of Locsin, Aquino and David combined for 41 points.
Helterbrand and Hizon later shared Player of the Game honors.
Yap topscored for Purefoods with game-high 27 points, while Espinosa and Paul Artadi chipped in 14 markers apiece.
PBA Hall of Famers Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez rekindled their history in this one-off match, returning at the helm for Ginebra and Purefoods respectively. Jaworski enlisted Philip Cesar and his son Dodot as assistant coaches, while Ed Cordero served as second-in-command for Fernandez.
The winning teams brought home the prize money worth 100,000 pesos. The players of the game were rewarded with 25,000 pesos along with other prizes.
San Miguel (96) – Caidic 26, Miranda 17, Ildefonso 14, Hontiveros 11, Belasco 7, Alvarez 6, Racela 5, Agustin 4, Calaguio 3, Gamboa 2, Paras 1, Reyes 0, Asaytono 0, Teng 0, Abuda 0
Alaska (83) – Miller 20, Abarrientos 11, Santos 9, Dela Cruz 8, Cariaso 7, Laure 6, Duremdes 5, Juinio 5, Lastimosa 4, Ferriols 4, Gomez 2, Hawkins 2, Sotto 0, Adornado 0
Quarters: 20-21, 32-40, 62-59, 96-83
Ginebra (97) – Helterbrand 21, Hizon 19, Aquino 15, Locsin 14, David 12, Feihl 7, Palad 4, Jarencio 4, Jose 1, Isaac 0, Gayoso 0, Loyzaga 0, Cheng 0, Distrito 0, Ong 0
Purefoods (89) – Yap 27, Artadi 14, Espinosa 14, Sta. Maria 7, Patrimonio 6, Codinera 6, Yee 5, Capacio 3, Marquez 3, Balingit 2, Solis 2, Ravena 0, Magsanoc 0, Pumaren 0, Naron 0
Quarters: 16-17, 38-38, 77-66, 97-89