Mendoza: Dragons good for the PBA

The reintroduction of a foreign team is proving to be a step in the right direction for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Fans are having a grand time watching the Hong Kong Bay Area Dragons dish off their wares in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Not since the time of Nicholas Stoodley USA did the basketball republic relish a conference that featured foreign teams.

Nicholas Stoodley even proceeded to sweep the Toyota Tamaraws in the 1980 PBA Invitational series to become the first foreign team to capture a PBA title.

The score in their final match was 118-113, with Robert Jaworski firing 21 points behind the game-high 40 points of Bruce King in the Toyota loss. Toyota was then coached by Fort Acuña (bless his soul).

In the first game of that electric night at the Araneta Coliseum, Adidas Rubberworld from France nipped Crispa, 102-100, in overtime after a 94-all count in regulation to finish third. Philip Cezar top scored for the Crispa Redmanizers with 22 points, with Abet Guidaben and Atoy Co chipping in 16 and 15 points, respectively.

“How the hell did we do that? At the time, it seemed miraculous,” was how Nicholas Stoodley described his team’s victory then.

“Besieged at the end of the final match, I had been surrounded by a phalanx of security guards and hauled down to the court protected from the baying Toyota fans who would have probably ripped me limb from limb. I am just a T-shirt designer. I’d never even played basketball once in my entire life. I stood there bathed in light, the focus of awe, respect, scorn and outright rage and words failed me. I even got to dance with Elizabeth Ramsey. That night we got extremely drunk, indeed.”

The Hong Kong Dragons are likewise doing well as evidenced by their back-to-back wins. The last one, over hard-luck NorthPort only last Saturday, had come on a twisting three by 6-foot-2 Myles Powell as time was expiring for the visitors’ 105-104 cliffhanger at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

“It’s too painful,” said NorthPort’s Robert Bolick, whose 33 points nearly matched Powell’s 37 markers. “We should have won the game.”

Well, at least the HK cagers are playing big time basketball this early. Good for the league thirsting for added thrill.