It was a sunny day when the Philippine Basketball Association opened its doors for business. The date was April 9, 1975, when the first game was played. Gregorio “Joy” Araneta scored the new league’s first points. The country was under the yoke of Martial Law but, inside the Araneta Coliseum it was a fiesta. The first professional league outside the United States had just began its enduring love affair with millions of Filipinos.
Frustrated and in conflict with the abrasive clutches of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (B.A.P.), the governing body of Pinoy basketball; nine clubs decided to band together and form the Philippine Basketball Association (P.B.A.). Toyota, Crispa, U-Tex, Royal Tru-Orange, Noritake, Carrier, Tanduay, Presto and Seven-Up were the charter members of the new league.
It was the start of something big and great! Basketball fans came from near and far to witness the action in The Big Dome . Asia’s first pro league had embarked on its remarkable journey.
PBA logos through time:
From 1975-2003, a season was usually composed of three conferences (tournaments). From the 1993 season, the conferences were named All Filipino, Commissioner’s and Governors Cups, usually ending in a best-of-7 Finals series match wherein the winner takes the Conference Cup. If the same team wins all of the conferences, the team is said to be the “Grand Slam” champion. A draft was held on January.
In 2004, then-commissioner Noli Eala introduced drastic changes to the season calendar. He reduced the number of conferences from three to two and changed the start of the season from February to October, so that the league can accommodate international tournaments that were frequently held from June to September. Another reason for the change in schedule was the popularity of college hoops, the NCAA and the UAAP, whose basketball season runs from June to October each year.
The first tournament is the Philippine Cup, which is held from October to February the following year, where only locals are allowed to play. The second tournament is the Fiesta Conference, held from March to June, teams are allowed to field one foreign player called an “import”. The Philippine Cup is identical to the All-Filipino Conference of the previous seasons. The rookie draft is now usually held every August.