TOYOTA had the last laugh over Crispa exactly 39 years ago after winning the deciding game of their final PBA championship showdown.
The Super Diesels downed the Redmanizers, 103-97, on July 25, 1981 before an estimated crowd of 30,000 at the Araneta Coliseum to capture the PBA Open Conference crown.
Import Andy Fields, determined to make up for the disappointment of losing the Open title to U-Tex in heartbreaking fashion the previous year, tallied 18 points for Toyota to claim the best-of-five series, 3-2.
His biggest basket came with 1:29 to go in the fourth when he completed a three-point play off a foul by Crispa counterpart James Hardy to make it 103-97 for the Super Diesels.
"That was a revenge game for me," Fields said during a recent episode of An Eternity of Basketball. "The year prior, we lost to U-Tex when we had a four-point lead with 16 seconds left and they came back and tied it and took it to overtime."
Toyota was 16 seconds away from winning the 1980 Open when it led 94-90 with 16 seconds left, only for U-Tex to send the do-or-die Game 5 to overtime.
The Wranglers, led by Bogs Adornado and former Boston Celtic Glenn McDonald, went on to prevail 99-98.
That is why Fields was too eager to ease the pain of that crushing defeat.
"My focus that whole season was nothing but to get back to winning a championship. So if you can imagine what adrenaline that was going through me at the time when we beat them," he said.
Ramon Fernandez was also instrumental in that win, scoring game-high 20 points, including a basket that shattered a 97-all tie with over three minutes to go.
However, coach Ed Ocampo, who won the title on his first conference with the Delta Motors franchise, paid tribute to his second unit, namely Nick Bulaong who put up 13 points.
"The big factor was the tremendous development and confidence of my shock absorbers," said Ocampo, as quoted by Bulletin Today.
Toyota won after falling behind 2-1 in the best-of-five affair. The Super Diesels forced a decider after a 116-98 win two nights earlier.
The whole series was officiated by NBA referees Jim Capers and Lee Jones, who was tapped by the league after holding a clinic.
It was the 10th finals encounter between the PBA's greatest rivals, with Crispa winning six and Toyota four. Toyota would fold after the '83 season before Crispa followed suit after the '84 campaign. (JT)