The Second Conference of the PBA’s inaugural season, like the successful First Conference, remained Crispa and Toyota’s personal property.
It was a continuation of the two basketball titans’ fierce rivalry with the Comets and the Redmanizers colliding in the championship playoff and the Comets winning all the marbles via forfeiture brought about by players fight that marked Game 3 of the best-of-five title series.
Inspired by the tremendous acceptance that attended the birth of first play-for-pay league, the PBA high priest thought it wise to make innovations. Designed to lend more excitement to the games, the league opened the gates to the imports in the second conference and the results were promising in both attendance and performance.
Action grew more exciting, games showed marked improvement, more fans trooped to the venues and the competition became stiffer. And before the semifinal round raised its curtains, the new baby showed it could stand on its own feet.
A new format was effected making the first six finisher of a single round robin elimination advancing into the next round.
With the imports displaying their wares for and against the local boys, action turned livelier and colorful. Mild upsets punctuated the first round with Royal Tru-Orange turning the tables on Toyota, 101-100, and Crispa, 137-135. Mariwasa-Noritake brought down the Comets, 129-114.
The opening round ended with Toyota upending Crispa, 110-108, raising their one-on-one personal duel to five games. Four other teams –Royal, Noritake, Universal Textiles and the Concepcion Carrier — joined the Comets and the Redmanizers to the round of six.
Toyota lost again, this time to U-Tex, but the Comets bounced back and made it six in a row over Crispa, 99-94, to pull abreast with their arch-rivals at the top of the standing after the elimination towing Noritake and Royal to the semifinals.
Crispa’s and Toyota’s problems persisted in the round of four. Royal nipped Toyota, 109-108, and Noritake edged Crispa, 112-111, in a pair of closed encounters opening the semis before a shouting, jumping spectators on October 30 at the full-house Quezon City Big Dome.
The Porcelain Makers, with imports James Cornelious and Billy Robinson doing the damage, looked unstoppable claiming the Comets as their next upset victims 112-106.
The PBA brought the action down the basketball-hungry south on November 2, but this didn’t change Crispa’s and Toyota’s fate for the better. The Comet beat the Redmanizers, 109-105, in Iloilo City, but the latter took revenge, 108-102, in Cebu City in the process cutting their losing streak against the Comets at seven.
Back in Manila, Crispa earned the first finals seat at the expense of Royal. Toyota, on the other hand, had to prevail over the Porcelain Makers twice to arrange a second straight finals encounter with Crispa for the Second Conference gonfalon.
The Comets reaffirmed their supremacy over the Redmanizers in a close 98-96 win at the start of the first to-win-three gold medal series. Crispa tied the series, 101-91. Game 3 of the title playoff went to Toyota in a more convincing fashion, 115-102, in a game that led tithe league’s most serious problem – fist fight between players of the warring clubs.
It took a single prick of a pin to set off the fisticuff which and Toyota’s Oscar Rocha and Crispa’s Rudy Soriano provided sparking a free-for-all as both team emptying their benches. Rocha and Soriano took the heavy punches as both ended up with lumps on their faces.
Near the end of the heated contest, Redmanizer Philip Cezar took a swing at Comet Ramon Fernandez and a second melee stopped the game anew.
Crispa ended Toyota’s wait for a back-to-back title conquest by defaulting the fourth game and the Comets were declared the Conference champion.