Who’s who in Philippine basketball history (part 3)

By Henry Liao May 15,2020
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Who’s who in Philippine basketball history (part 3)

By Henry Liao May 15,2020 - 05:32 PM


The game being the national pastime of many Filipinos, it is no small wonder that there have been many prominent athletes in local basketball history, whether it be in the collegiate, amateur/professional ranks or international competitions, since the sport was invented by Canadian James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts in December 1898.

With the community home quarantine throughout Metro Manila and Luzon in effect since March 15, we simply have had so much time to do some research on the subject.

Join me then in this test of wits to find the identity of some of the prominent Filipino roundballers from the past.


21. It was the special ABC 10th anniversary tournament in Manila in 1970 and the Philippine team held a scrimmage among its players.

Here in photo, popping a jumper off a screen by Jimmy Mariano, was the hero in the Filipinos’ 1967 ABC championship-winning duel against host South Korea when he made two free throws off the bench in the dying seconds of an 83-80 victory in Seoul.

At the time, he was fresh off a successful stint with the University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP in a fierce rivalry with the University of the East’s Robert Jaworski.

It was the first international campaign for this fella and the Big J, both of whom were corralled by Yco in their MICAA debut.

The 5-10 forward-guard also spent eight seasons (1975-83) in the PBA with four teams and once posted a 64-point game with 7-Up.

Who is he?

His initials are DF.

22. He was virtually unknown since he broke into the PBA in the league’s debut season in 1975. The thing is he lasted just one season and 21 games in the PBA with 7-Up.

But make no mistake about him, the 6-5, 170-pound native of Baliwag, Bulacan was an outstanding glass-eater and once owned the record for most rebounds in a single game by a homegrown player in PBA history when he plucked down 29 boards for the U colas in a 111-95 loss to Carrier on June 3, 1975.

For more than four decades, the record stood until a mammoth nan-mountain by the name of June Mar Fajardo, who eclipsed his monstrous board performance with 31 caroms for San Miguel Beer in a game against Magnolia on May 15, 2019.

In photo, he distracts Crispa’s Atoy Co, who wisely eludes his defense with a nifty pass to teammate William Adornado.

His nickname is Jhinkee.

Who is he?

His initials are MS.

23. This player was a chip off the old block, his dad being a famous national team player during the 1950s.

For some reason, this reed-thin lefty guard from UST donned the PH national colors only twice in the Asian Basketball Confederation tournaments in 1969 (Bangkok, bronze medalist) and Tokyo (1971, silver medalist).

The “Little Fox” was bumped out of the 1972 Munich Olympic squad and was relegated to the second-rated Pesta Sukan Games in Singapore.

He played in the old MICAA and suited up for seven seasons (1975-81) in the PBA.

He died at a young age and was once married to actrees-turnerd-pastora Constancia Nubla, the mom of the current Pasig City mayor.

In photo, he wards off the outstretched arm of Crispa defender Atoy Co.

Who is he?

His initials are LM.

24. Who does not know The Fortune Cookie?

If by chance you really don’t know him, because you belong to the Gen X era, allow me to introduce him.

A perennial PH national teamer at the Asian level, starting with the Youth Games in Manila in 1972, the boyish, high-scoring one-time King Cardinal from Mapua Tech made his post-graduate debut with Crispa in the MICAA in 1972. The 6-1 guard first wore jersey No. 5 before switching to the familiar No. 6.

The popular mop-haired gunslinger with a cute moustache played in the PBA for 14 seasons from 1975 to 1988.

The forte of the ambidextrous Daet, Camarines Norte native who will turn 69 on October 15: The turnaround fadeaway jumper that no one, until now, has duplicated.

What is his name?

His initials are FC.

25. Where there is Ateneo, there is La Salle – be it be in the old NCAAs days or in the UAAP nowadays.

If you are an all-time De La Salle faithful, then you would known that the late Lim Eng Beng (fifth from left, No. 14 and team captain) steered the Green Archers to the NCAA crown in 1974, his second with the school after also emerging victorious in 1971 as a freshman.

To Lim’s left in the photo is a handsome fella (No. 7) who eventually was involved in the family-run restaurant business and worked as a team official with a PBA club.

Vivian Velez is a VV.

So is this fella.

What is his name?

26. If you are an all-time Blue Eagles faithful, then this should be easy for you! One Big Fight!

As a 6-2, 16-year-old Ateneo Blue Eaglet during the NCAA’s Golden Anniversary season in 1974, he topped the first round of the two-round Juniors competitions in scoring with a 24.4-point average in seven appearances. He even outpointed the top point Makers in the seniors division – De La Salle’s Lim Eng Beng and Jose Rizal College’s Angelito Ladores, both of whom submitted identical 21.5 ppg in first-round play.

This mestizo-looking player was known as the “Bandana Kid” for using a bandana to tie his shoulder-length hair during his heyday.

He eventually played six seasons (1982-87) and 260 games with four teams in the PBA.

Sadly, at last sight, he has turn bald in old age.

His initials are SW.

27. This national team player from Ysmael Steel can shoot from anywhere. The long toms were chief in his offensive arsenal.

When his playing days were over, he tried his luck in local politics and was a perennial victor in the Mandaluyong City Council race.

Would you know who he is?

His initials are NB.

28. This wily 6-3 postman with mestizo looks attended the University of the East during the 1960s when the Red Warriors were in the midst of a record eight straight UAAP titles.

Thereafter, this native of Batangas City joined Crispa in the old MICAA and was reunited with his college mentor Virgilio (Baby) Dalupan, whose family then owned UE (it’s now owned by the Lucio Tan family).

During his time, Crispa was the dominant force in the MICAA with a number of championships.

He also was a member of the Philippine team to the 1969 ABC tournament and the 1970 Asian Games, both held in Bangkok.

Walking with a limp and bothered by a nagging ankle injury, he was far from his old self when he moved to the PBA in 1975. Still, in six seasons (1975-80) with U-Tex, Filmanbank and CDCP, he normed 15.5 points in 237 games.

Who is he?

His initials are RK.

29. It was fashionable to be mop-haired during the 1970s and this 5-11 forward-guard out of the University of the East was no exception.

Deadly with his quarter-court flips and fastbreak layups, he was a member of the gold medal-winning Philippine team to the 1977 Asian Youth Basketball Championship in Kuwait. He starred for Yco in the old MICAA during the mid-1970s – while its top amateur players defected to the professional PBA league. He was the league’s MVP in 1978 when the Painters under coach Edgardo Ocampo snared the title.

Within weeks, this well-built, potent offensive threat transferred to Yco’s professional team, the Tanduay Esquires, in the PBA in 1978 and earned Rookie of the Year honors in the league.

He spent 5.5 seasons with the then-Elizalde franchise, renamed back to Yco-Tanduay before he moved to Great Taste midway through the 1983 season.His last stop was Shell. In 12 PBA seasons (1978-89), he averaged 11.2 points in 487 games.

What is his name?

His initials are JM.

30. No more than 20 players from Chinese-Filipino highs schools belonging to the Tiong Lian league have suited up in the professional league PBA.

The latest to make the PBA grade included Kyles Lao (Xavier School), Jose Anton (Jett) Manuel (Xavier), brothers Jeric and Jeron Teng (both from Xavier), brothers Gabriel and Raphael Banal (both from Xavier), Woodward Co (Xavier), and Justin Chua (Chiang Kai Shek College).

But only three of their ilk were founding players when the PBA opened shop on April 9, 1975.

They were Fortunato (Atoy) Co Jr (Philippine Cultural High School), the late Lim Eng Beng (CKSC) and this 5-11 forward also from CKSC who later starred for the University of the Philippines Maroons in the UAAP in the early 1970s.

After college, he suited up for CFC Presto in the old MICAA then moved with the team to the PBA when it opened shop in 1975. The club became the N-Rich Coffee Creamers in his second season with the Gokongwei franchise.

The Binondo-born frontliner with the thin moustache then transferred to Honda (Mariwasa franchise) in 1979 following a two-year hiatus.

Known for his picture-perfect jumper and leaping ability, he lasted just three seasons in the PBA with a career average of 7.4 points in 53 games.

After retiring his jersey, he went into high school coaching in the mid-1980s, winning Tiong Lian titles in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990,1991 and 1992 with CKSC before winning another one in 2007 with a Blue Dragons unit that was built around Justin Chua. He also went into organizing Chinese-Filipino tournaments for the youth.

What is his name?

His initials are SC.

* * * * *

The answers: 21. Danilo (Danny) Florencio; 22. Marcelino Simbulan; 23. Lawrence (Larry) Mumar; 24. Fortunato (Atoy) Co Jr; 25 Virgil Villavicencio; 26. Steve Watson; 27. Narciso Bernardo; 28. Rudolf Kutch; 29. Jaime (Jimmy) Manansala; and 30. Sunny Co.

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