THE 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals will feature imports Romeo Travis of Magnolia and Mike Harris of Alaska battling for the crown.
But did you know that this is not the first time that a Travis and a Harris will be slugging it out for the crown in the season-ending conference title?
In the 1993 Governors’ Cup, Kenny Travis of San Miguel and Tony Harris of Swift went at it for the title with Travis leading the Beermen to a 4-1 series win over Harris’ Mighty Meaties.
Travis, selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the sixth round of the 1987 NBA draft, played five seasons in the PBA, four with San Miguel. Former Beermen coach Norman Black fondly remembers Travis, who led San Miguel to the first-ever Governors’ Cup crown since the third conference was named as such that year.
“He led us to the championship,” said Black, now the head coach of Meralco, in an interview with SPIN.ph. “He is pretty good there is no question about that.”
“He is a really good defender, he can score the basketball with the best of them, and he is a good passer too,” Black added.
Of course, who can forget Harris, who scored a PBA-high 105 points in an out-of-town game against Ginebra in Iloilo on October 10, 1992. Swift won that game in a high-scoring affair, 151-147.
In a 2016 interview by SPIN.ph, former Swift coach Yeng Guiao said Harris was so good he could forgive the wild mood swings of the flashy import.
“Si Tony na 'yun,” said Guiao when asked about who is the most ‘topak import’ of his coaching career. “Sa iba kasi pag nahihirapan na akong i-handle at hindi naman kagalingan, bakit ka magtitiyaga? Si Tony kasi napakagaling kaya pagti-tiyagaan mo,” said Guiao.
Although Harris became known for his offensive prowess due to his 105-point game, Black said Travis can also score with the best of them.
“Tony Harris probably had to do a lot more offensively than Kenny Travis had to do for San Miguel. But Kenny Travis was also putting up big numbers and a lot of points,” said Black.
In Game One of the series last December 5, 1993, San Miguel prevailed in double overtime, 140-138, with Travis deflecting a pass by Harris to seal the win, according to a game account by then-Manila Standard reporter Rocky Nazareno. Travis scored 40 points in the win, while Harris had 54 in a losing effort.
Game Two on December 7, 1993 was marred by a free-for-all sparked by Travis and Harris, with Art dela Cruz even going after Rudy Distrito in the ensuing incident. Debris were thrown by fans on the court with then-Manila Chronicle reporter Musong Castillo even suffering a deep cut due to an ice thrown on the court, according to Nazareno’s game account. Travis and Harris were later thrown out from a game that Swift went on to win, 122-109.
After that hotly-contested Game Two, Travis and Harris had another scoring explosion with Travis scoring 40 and Harris 54. But just like in the series opener, San Miguel ended up with the win, 124-110, in overtime on December 10, 1993.
The Beermen never looked back following that Game Three win as San Miguel won the next match, 109-104, two days later, before bagging the title as Travis finished with 34 points in a close-out win over Swift, 91-89, in Game Five on December 14., 1993.
Black couldn’t remember much about the 1993 Governors’ Cup title series. “I know it happened,” said Black about that 1993 Governors’ Cup championship series.
What Black can recall, though, were the similarities of the game between Travis and Harris – imports who both made an impact in the Philippines in the 1990s.
“They were two of the best imports in the Philippines during that time period. As a matter of fact, he and Tony Harris have something in common. They are about 6-2, 6-3, but their bodies were very strong and they were very athletic,” Black said.