Remembering our basketball guys
HONESTLY, up to now, I am still confused why we Filipinos remember our dear departed and visit their tombs on November 1, All Saints’ Day and not on November 2, which is more apt as it is All Souls’ Day, but I guess tradition will always prevail.
For this piece I would like to remember basketball players and personalities who have gone to the beyond and offer prayers for the repose of their soul, some of them I knew personally or have interviewed over my long period in sports, while present day fans will fail to even recognize some of the names in the list I was able to research and compile, though I am sure I still would have missed a few names but my prayers go to them just the same.
A lot of these people I have in the list died of natural cause, sickness, with Gilbert Bulawan the only PBA player so far to have died while still actively playing, the rest were all retired when they departed from this physical world, there were some who died from violence, and I can name Arnie Tuadles as on top of the list as he was shot dead over a game of pusoy by then GAB Chairman Amber Antonio, Jimmy Otazu who played for U-Tex was stabbed by a stevedore in a Batangas pier, Danny Pribhdas died at the hands of robbers who entered his house, Tembong Melencio was stabbed near Cuneta Astrodome by a military serviceman.
There were those who met an untimely death because of accidents, Ricky Pineda fell off a bus in Guadalupe, Bryan Gahol’s death was due to a vehicular accident, while Dave Supnet, I heard died from an airplane crash.
Two guys whom I saw in the United States during my last visit there were Anthony Dasalla and Estoy Estrada, Dasalla hosted a dinner in his house near SanFo and Estrada came together with Marte Saldana and Danny Manalastas among others, both Dasalla and Estrada died from sickness, the great shooter Lim Eng Beng succumbed to cancer last year. Same with the Reynoso brothers, Alberto and Cristino who also died from illness. Narciso Bernardo was in a coma for a long long time before he died, dead shot Jun Papa went ahead of Ciso.
Others I found out who have died already also include Larry Mumar, the Little Fox, FEU shooter Valerio de los Santos, UST and Mariwasa’s George Lizares, a contortionist while driving to the basket, Ely Capacio who was an HR guy like me, burly Alex Clarino, another shooter Alfie Almario, Jack Tanuan, Rey Cuenco, Ric-ric Marata, and Gido Babilonia whose death was said to have been due to “kulam”.
Jonas Mariano’s death also came this year, just a few months ago.
Among PBA ex-imports, Bobby Parks, one of the best imports who played in the PBA, also joined his Creator three years ago but left a son Ray-Ray, to follow his footsteps, Darryl Smith who ended up settling down in Cebu is also on the list together with the likes of Anthony Roberts, Jim Bradley, James Lister, Danny Knight, the more familiar Carlos Terry who played for Toyota, same with Bruce “Sky” King, also an ex-Toyota, and partner of Andy Fields. The latest however was Tanduay’s David Pope, a very popular import.
Legendary coach Baby Dalupan, whose book came out just before he died and I take pride in the fact that I contributed a little something in the pre-production stage of “Maestro”, and inarguably the best ever Filipino basketball player Carlos Loyzaga, whose own book I played a major part working with his son Chito, died this year while contemporary Kurt Bachmann went ahead three years ago. Ron Jacobs, who revolutionized coaching in the Philippines, also met his repose from a long comatose stage.
In the world of sports media, four of my former editors have died, Sim Sotto of Sports Weekly, Bert Cuevas of Manila Times, Tito Tagle of Sports World, and man who ate the ball Romy Kintanar, some colleagues who have gone ahead and I do not have plans of joining them yet include Pyke Jocson who died with his boots on, covering the Panin Cup in Malaysia, Raffy Japa, Fred Luarca, not my batch though he was doing a column in Sports World when I was writing there in the late 70s, and Joe Cantada though he was in broadcast, in print media, Ruben Esguerra, our photographer in Sports Weekly Magazine, and some whose names now escape my memory.
I even came across some NBA players who have died while still on the roster like Bulawan, they were Drazen Petrovic, Reggie Lewis, Len Bias and Jason Collier, thrown in rebounding legend Moses Malone though he died just this year.
Please offer your own prayers for these people.