by Jonas Terrado
Allan Caidic found his mark when it mattered to lead the legends of San Miguel Beer to a 96-83 comeback win over counterparts from Alaska Milk in the Return of the Rivals held before a big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Caidic bucked a 1-of-6 start from three-point range, hitting two crucial long toms late in the fourth quarter that sealed the Beermen’s victory in the first of two games featuring some of the PBA’s greats.
He finished with 26 points on 6-of-14 triples to emerge as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Also key in San Miguel’s victory was two-time PBA MVP Danny Ildefonso, who flaunted his patented post moves to help San Miguel recover from falling behind 40-32 at the half.
Ildefonso scored eight of his 14 points in the third before Caidic engaged in a shootout with Alaska’s Willie Miller, who had 20 points for the Milkmen in a losing cause.
Back-to-back threes by Caidic gave San Miguel a 91-79 lead, exactly the same time coliseum barker Noel Zarate shouted the trademark “Last Two Minutes! Last Two Minutes!” by his predecessors.
It was one of many things that brought all present in a trip back memory lane.
Pilo Pumaren and Jong Uichico were back manning the sidelines for the Beermen while the Milkmen were handled by Tim Cone’s assistants Joel Banal and Aric del Rosario.
The starting five of Alaska’s 1996 Grand Slam team — Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins, Poch Juinio and Jeff Cariaso — played on the same floor while legendary utility man Tom Urbano was also on the bench.
One three by Caidic prompted Zarate to shout, “Caidic, Three Points!”
San Miguel had a mixture of players from the 1989 Grand Slam team and from the championship squads of Uichico from 1999 to 2005, namely Ildefonso and Racela while Caidic was joined by fellow 90’s standouts Nelson Asaytono and Bong Alvarez.