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After the 1976 PBA Season’s top performers had been determined with Crispa’s Atoy Co edging Francis Arnaiz of Toyota for the honor, a group of sportswriters, who covered the entire second year of the country’s play-for-pay league, along with chief statistician Fred Luarca, formed a panel of selectors to sit down and decide who the other standouts were.
Wliiam “Bogs” Adornado, also of Crispa, was cinch for the back-to-back MVP despite not seeing action for part of the Secnod Conference and the whole All-Philippine Championship due to knee injury.
Discussions reached to a point where it was argued that Co and Arnaiz are both sentinels and as such it would be inadvisable to fielding both together for fear that the leather might not reach the forward line.
Which was what actually happened as what to the Tamaraws in their futile bid to stop the Denims from capturing their and the PBA’s first Grand Slam.
By the way, whatever the panel would arrive at would be unofficial as there was a body tasked with officially naming who would compose the Mythical team.
So, it was decided that at the backcourt with Atoy should be the Tamaraws’ Robert Jaworski. For center, the choice was Mann over Byron Jones of Toyota. The wings should be manned by Ramon Fernandez and Estoy Estrada.
The Big J, no doubt, fit the backcourt partner of Co in the Mythical Five. Jawo was known for his barreling kind of game, a power-player, a shooter should he decided to, a rebounder and a true-and-true team man.
Sonny led the passing assist category in the All Philippine campaign; ranked third in overall assist; second in steals; 10th in loose ball recoveries; 11th in free throw conversions; 15th in individual points. He was also Toyota;s tower of strength with Jones in defense.
No slot was allotted for import at the paint, so the honor went to Fernandez. In the official selection, Philip Cezar was decided to play opposite Bogs at forward.
The official composition of the Mythical selection were: Atoy and Jawo at guards, Bogs and Ipe at the wings and Fernandez at the middle.
Pampanga’s pride, the young Gil Cortez was adjudged Rookie of the Year, the first such first-timer to have accorded the honor in the two years of the league.
Describing Mann’s performance in the Second and Third conferences, Crispa coach Baby Dalupan had this to say: “It’s man’s calmness under whatever situation that kept him in the game for as long as we needed him.
Jones, before Mann’s arrival, was the league’s most outstading foreign player. “Cyrus is a man who wouldn’t ran through through a brickwall to to prove his worth. He wouldn’t do it,” Dalupan said of his import’s value.
Rightly so. Mann from Detroit, Michigan,had never been in foul trouble in his stint with the Denims in the Open
True, he created quiet a fuss at the start when he repeatedly traveled to and from the US, on alleged family problems. Bur once Dalupan had put him in his proper place, Mann proved his real caliber.
Mann, for his part, had this to say with the Filipinois’ brand of plays: “One good thing about playing here is that you don’t have to worry about shooting. Somebody else would do that for you.”
“Yet, everybody in the team does his best to share in the effort. Filipinos know their basketball and they, definitely, know how to play the game,” he said by way of paying tribute to his teammates and the opposition. Arnaiz, the sportswriters’ panel decided, would do well in the second five together with Universal Textiles’ Lim Eng Beng, Jones and Freddie Hubalde of Crispa and and Manny of Royal.
Of dourse Rudolf Kutch should complete a 12-man line-up of a PBA Selection had there been one.
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