MERALCO may have a short history in the PBA and is in fact a debutant in the Finals stage, but that doesn't mean the company or the name has no basketball pedigree to speak of.
Meralco's basketball history in fact dates back to the pre-PBA days when the MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) was the country's top basketball league, playing regularly before sellout crowds, first at the Rizal Coliseum along Vito Cruz in Manila and later at the Big Dome.
Although the Reddy Kilowatts never had a deep winning tradition as legendary MICAA teams Yco and Ysmael Steel, the ballclub finally came together in the final years of the commercial amateur league when it waged its own rivalry with a young Crispa Redmanizers team.
After bridesmaid finishes, the Reddy Kilowatts finally won it all in 1971 with a team coached by the eminent Lauro 'The Fox' Mumar and led by future greats Robert Jaworski, Jimmy Mariano, Francis Arnaiz, Boy Marquez, Big Boy Reynoso, Ramon Lucindo and Mumar's own son, Larry.
Jaworski, who in later years would become a star at Toyota and the face of the Ginebra franchise, in fact had a short but colorful history with Meralco which he joined after transfering from Yco.
Based on events painstakingly pieced together by our sister site FHM.com.ph, contemporaries and former teammates recalled how Jaworski 'almost died' after crashing shoulder first to the floor after being 'submarined' on a drive to the basket.
"Nangisay," was how Lucindo described Jaworski after the fall.
A year after the championship, Jaworski and Big Boy Reynoso were also banned for life by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) after they attacked referee Joe Obias during a heated MICAA game against Crispa.
Although the life ban on Jaworski and Reynoso were lifted a year later, that incident signalled the end of Meralco's foray into basketball as it announced the disbandment of its MICAA team in February of 1972.
For the full detail, go to this well-researched oral history put together by FHM Philippines aptly titled, 'When The Meralco Reddy Kilowatts Were Basketball Kings,' featuring narratives by Mariano and Lucindo and former rivals like Freddie Webb (Yco) and Bogs Adornado (Crispa).