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Who’s who in Philippine basketball history (part 9)

By Henry Liao June 18,2020
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Who’s who in Philippine basketball history (part 9)

By Henry Liao June 18,2020
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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 this Baby Boomer in home quarantine since March 15, and unable to move outside of my residence except to take a walk for a few minutes from time to time due to my SC status, the stay-at-home restrictions allowed me time to search for skeletons in my basketball library and 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.

THE QUIZ (part 9)

81. A game in the Philippine Basketball Association consists of at least 48 minutes or more for every five-minute overtime period.

Often third-stringers or marginal players are sent in the final seconds of a game that has already been decided. There are some exceptions, though.
There have been two occasions in PBA annals that a player was sent in with a second remaining on the game clock.
The most recent was the case of Star’s Norberto Brian Torres in a 97-95 victory over NLEX on November 8, 2015.

But there was the first instance where a player was on the floor for the final second of a game on September 20, 1992.  It was a closely-fought affair between Ginebra and Alaska that was won by the latter, 93-92.

With a second left, this player entered the hardwood on his own and why not, he was the playing coach of the popular team.

His initials are RJ.

82. They used to be teammates at Mariwasa in the old MICAA but the pair of imports went their separate ways at the start of the second year of the PBA.

One remained with the Noritake Porcelain Makers (the predecessor of Mariwasa Noritake) while the other hooked up with the Concepcion Fiberlites (later renamed Quasar).

Who are these two Americans?
Their initials are BR and IO.

83. This 6-5 center helped guide the Universidad ng Pilipinas to its most recent UAAP title in 1986.

But what set him apart are two records in the PBA that are unlikely to be repeated in our lifetime.

First, the Caloocan native is the only player in PBA history to corral the Rookie of the year and Most Valuable Player award during the same season in 1989.

Second, he also is the only man in PBA history to capture multiple MVP awards that are separated by a decade.

That came in 1989 and 1999.  In 1989, he owned a season high of 50 points and posted averages of 25.8 points and 12.9 rebounds in 57 games with Formula Shell. In 1999, his numbers with Shell Velocity had slipped considerably with norms of 15.7 scores and 6.6 boards in 56 appearances.

Injuries slowed him down in his final years in Asia’s first pro league and he wound up his 15-year PBA tenure (1989-2003) with Shell and San Miguel Beer with respectable averages of 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots  in 586 games.

Who is this player?
His initials are VP.


84. A jumping jack hoop fans called this Cebu native for his ability to snare the rebounds with impunity when he was with SMC in the old MICAA in 1976.

This 6-foot forward out of the University of Visayas played with Royal Tru-Orange (a SMC brand) in his first two PBA seasons and then moved to Gilbey’s Gin/St. George Whiskey, Countryfair and Tanduay in an eight-year PBA stint from 1978 to 1986 with an 8.7-point career clip in 252 games.  His initials are MJ.

85.  Metro Manila may be the hotbed of Philippine basketball but don’t tell that to hoopsters from the Queen City of the South that have made waves in the Big City through the decades.

Dubbed as a master tactician on the floor, this 5-9 backcourter from the Southwestern University Cobras was one example.  The Jimenez, Misamis Occidental native had suited for Mariwasa in the old MICAA since 1971 and later was a pioneer PBA player with Mariwasa Noritake in 1975, averaging 14.5 points in 40 appearances.

He spent his entire eight-year tenure (1975-82) with the same franchise, from Mariwasa Noritake to Honda to Finance, Inc. and Galerie Dominique with a 10.5-point average in 264 outings.

86. Wow! Sixty-five years ago it was.

This photo was taken during the opening ceremonies of the 1955 MICAA tournament where the team captains presided over the sportsmanship oath-taking.

From left were Jacinto’s Feliciano De La Cruz, Seven-Up’s Cady Tanquintic, Yellow Taxi’s Nilo Verona, an Yco legend and PAL’s Luis Tabuena.

What is the name of this Yco great with the No. 13 jersey?

87. One-on-one sideshows there were aplenty during the late 1960s and early 1970s before the advent of the PBA in 1975.

An enterprising promoter came up with one as a teaser to an Ateneo vs. De La Salle exhibition game on February 7, 1975 before a crowd of more than 20,000 at the Araneta Coliseum.

It was a three-part program. In the old-timers game serving as the appetizer, the Ed Ocampo-led Blue Eagles whipped the Green Archers, 77-68.

The mainer was an exhibition tussle between the 1971 NCAA champion La Salle and the 1969 NCAA titlist Ateneo.

The Archers came out on top, 88-87.

In the one-on-one duel, Lim Eng Beng represented the Green and Francis Arnaiz represented the Blue.

The final score was 13-12. Who do you think won this duel?


88.  This Crispa Floro team from the MICAA 1970s was so star-studded that most Baby Boomers would know their names from their jersey numbers.

In the photo, this hot-headed and bruising player with the No. 16 jersey suited up for the Redmanizers in just the First Conference (12 games, 13.3 ppg) of the PBA’s inaugural presentation in 1975 before getting back to the pro league the following season with the N-Rich Coffee Creamers.

The 6-0 guard may be black-skinned but he is as Filipino as your neighbor, hailing from Olongapo City, and saw action with the University of the East Red Warriors in the Big City.

What is his name?
His initials are JR.

89. A 5-10 forward out of the University of the Visayas, this player was recruited by the Mariwasa club for a stint in the MICAA in 1974 and then saw action with Mariwasa Noritake in the PBA’s inaugural season in 1975 and with Noritake Porcelain Makers the following campaign.

Nicknamed Sammy Cass, the Jimenez, Misamis Occidental native, who was born on Valentine’s Day, never again played in the PBA, finishing with a 5.9-point clip in just 42 appearances.

What is his name?
His initials are VSN.


90.  This member of the Philippine national squad that grabbed the gold medal during the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia owned various offensive moves that often bewildered the opposition.

A good long-range bomber and aggressive penetrator, the 5-9 forward out of Far Eastern University suited for Ysmael Steel and Meralco in the old MICAA during the early 1970s but retired long before the PBA was established in 1975.

His volcanic temper and physical defense were camouflaged by his outstanding in-and-out skills.

Who is he?
His initials are EA.


* * * * *

THE ANSWERS: 81-Robert (Sonny) Jaworski;  82-Billy Robinson and Israel (Cisco) Oliver;  83-Venancio (Benjie) Paras;  84-Marlowe Jacutin;  85-Jesse Sullano;  86-Antonio Genato; 87-Francis Arnaiz; 88-Johnny Revilla; 89-Van Samson Nery and  90-Engracio (Boy) Arazas.

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