Michael Hackett belonged to an era when PBA imports routinely put up huge numbers every game. But even by that era's lofty standards, he still managed to stand out.
While the six-foot-five Hackett had dreams of playing in the NBA shortly after his collegiate stint at Jacksonville, things didn't work out as well as he would have liked.
Hackett was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the third round of the 1982 NBA Draft, but was released even before the season began. That, however, became a blessing in disguise.
After toiling away in the Venezuelan League in 1984, he got a call that would turn out to be the game-changer in his pro career.
In 1985, Hackett began reinforcing Ginebra in the PBA and on November 21, scored an out-of-this world 103 points against Great Taste Coffee, the first-ever player in league history to reach triple digits in a game.
Hackett admitted he had no plans of breaking any record the day he set foot at the ULTRA (now Philsports Arena) for Game 1 of their best-of-seven battle for third. However, he did remember loading up on pasta and steak for his pre-game meal.
"I think I was scoring and flowing and I think at the end of the first quarter, I had 20-plus points already," recalled Hackett during his chat with An Eternity of Basketball over the weekend. "I was just doing my thing, going through the motions, no expectations."
By halftime, Ginebra was in complete command, having erected an 85-64 lead, 48 of which came courtesy of their reinforcement.
By then, Hackett said he still had his mind set on simply leading Ginebra to victory. Playing coach Sonny Jaworski, though, had other plans after witnessing his import's Herculean effort in the opening half.
"We were going to the locker room when Sonny said, 'We'll go get you the record tonight.' Sonny said that so (I said), 'Okay, let's go get the record,'" he narrated.
At that time, Winston Kings import Larry McNeill held the all-time scoring record for a single game after dropping 88 points, also on Great Taste, back in 1983.
Hackett was unaware of that fact, but after getting encouragement from Jaworski as well as his teammates to go out there and break the record, he did just that.
"So we go back out and I picked up where I left off. [With] maybe five or six minutes left in the third, I was almost at the 70-point mark," he shared. "By the end of the third and into the fourth, I eclipsed the [record] and then it was just a matter of continuing to score."
The Ginebra import did all that without even making - let alone, attempting - a three-point shot.
"Everything was [either two points or an] and-one. I didn't shoot one three-pointer," he remarked. "I think Sonny pulled me out with about three minutes left to allow me to get the ovation from the fans."
At the final buzzer, Game 1 went to Ginebra, 197-168, which to this day still holds the records for most combined points, most points by a winning team, and most points by a losing team.
Three days after his 103-point game, Hackett etched his name into the record books once more by pulling down 45 rebounds to lead his team to a 2-0 series bulge. While his 103-point outburst was eventually surpassed by Tony Harris' 105 in 1992, the 45 rebounds are still a league record.
They would go on to sweep the series, whipping Great Taste by an average margin of victory of 25 points.
Hackett, for his part, would go on to raise the 1985 Best Import trophy after averaging 50.5 points and 20.0 rebounds per game in 24 games.
"Once you set the precedent, they hold you accountable so, like I said, for me, it was just about going out there and just doing it," he explained. "If it was a record [and] I got it, so be it, but it was never where I think of it consciously."
Hackett's dominance earned him a return trip to Ginebra for the 1986 Open Conference, with Jaworski also tapping the flamboyant Billy Ray Bates to be his partner.
With Hackett and Bates wreaking havoc on the opposition, Ginebra powered through to the Finals where Manila Beer was waiting with the equally explosive duo of Michael Young and Harold Keeling.
Young and Keeling proved to be no match for Hackett and Bates, however, and Ginebra just needed five games to win the franchise's first-ever championship.
"Just in terms of athletic ability, this guy [Bates] was phenomenal, the total package," Hackett said of 'Black Superman.' "He can shoot, he can finish, he can assist. He can do it all."
Hackett, who turns 61 on May 11, still remembers how he was treated by the Ginebra fans during his three-conference stint here.
"It's almost like you've gone to heaven when you play in the PBA," stressed the reinforcement who sported double zeros on his famed Ginebra jersey. "To have that kind of celebrity (feel) and just be adored by fans...if it's one thing I learned, humility always wins. I figured that's one of the things [why fans] adored me."
For Hackett, giving time to fans was always a must.
"I was already like that even when I was in the U.S. I take time to talk with my fans, give them my autograph because without their support you have nothing," he said. "You got a guy or a lady who spent some cash to see you, the least you can do is say thank you."
Hackett averaged 39.0 points and 18.5 rebounds in his third and final stint with Ginebra in the 1987 Open Conference when the team finished fourth. After the team didn't call him back in 1988, he went on to play in Israel until his retirement in 1995.