Why did Boy Cabahug’s All-Star Game MVP award end up as a footnote in 1989?

IN the inaugural staging of the PBA All-Star Game in 1989, the Rookies and the Sophomores held their own against their Veteran counterparts.

For most of the game, the stars came out to perform.

The Veterans paraded with a line up led by Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez, two of the league’s icons. The team also had Philip Cezar, Arnie Tuadles, Yoyoy Villamin, Manny Victorino, Elmer Reyes, Joey Loyzaga, Hector Calma, Samboy Lim, Yves Dignadice and Allan Caidic.

But the young turks were no pushovers either.

Culled from the batch considered as the richest pool in talent, rookies such as Benjie Paras, Nelson Asaytono, Bong Alvarez, Dindo Pumaren, Zaldy Realubit, Boy Cabahug, Romy dela Rosa, and Bobby Jose joined sophomores Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera, Jojo Lastimosa, and Ronnie Magsanoc.

The Rookies and Sophomores played catch up for most of the game and until the final minute, where they needed timely baskets from Cabahug (who had a sensational performance all game long), Magsanoc and Lastimosa to pull even.

So it went down to the final play and like a fairy tale ending, Jaworski and Fernandez would connive – a fitting conclusion most fans would have wanted at that time.

Despite losing the game, the MVP award was given from a player coming from a losing team – Cabahug, who finished the game with 24 points.

It’s not the first time that an MVP was given to a losing team. The NBA awarded the Finals MVP award to Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969 despite the team’s loss to the Boston Celtics.

But Cabahug’s performance was overshadowed by the drama that unfolded in that event.

Jaworski and Fernandez were having a cold war that lasted for five years, and the All-Star Game served as a stage for the two icons to finally patch things up.

Through the intercession of the legendary Baby Dalupan, who was coaching the Veterans team, the two were able to kiss and make up and that final play where the two conspired served as a lasting image for the fans who witnessed such spectacle.

Too bad the MVP award served as just a footnote.

For the people who cheered both for Fernandez and Jaworski, there’s a better reason to celebrate. The cold war has just ended.

A year later, the Philippine men’s basketball team put up its first ever all-professional squad in the 1990 Asian Games with Jaworski serving as coach and Fernandez as his team captain.

As for Cabahug, life went on.

By the end of the 1990 season, he would be traded to Purefoods where he became part of the All-Filipino champion squad in 1991. He would win another title in 1993 with the same franchise, who then carried the brand Coney Island Ice Cream. But after getting traded to Pepsi, he became a journeyman and slowly faded away from stardom until he retired.