MANILA, Philippines – Philippine sports icon Robert “Sonny” Jaworski urges local sports leaders not to brush aside basketball even with the emerging popularity of other sports like football.
The country may not be winning first place finishes in major basketball competitions, but this is not enough reason to give up on the sport, said “The Living Legend.”
|Basketball legend Robert Jaworski shows his famous No. 7 jersey during a press conference in Pasig City. The jersey will be formally retired on July 8. Photo by Manny Palmero for ABSCBNnews.com
“Kaya ako nalulungkot kasi ‘yung basketball is part of the lives of so many Filipinos. Mayroon tayong sports leaders isinasantabi [ang basketball],” said Jaworski, former playing coach of Ginebra San Miguel.
“‘Eh puro basketball naman,’ they would say. Eh, teka muna, dito kami nag-eenjoy eh. Saka maganda naman ito dahil buo, tumatakbo, tumatalon, naguusap, samahan, ‘yan ang essence [ng sports e]. Bakit niyo isasantabi?” he added.
Although he spent most of his playing time in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Jaworski is no stranger to international tournaments.
He steered the Philippine national team to a silver medal finish in the 1990 Asian Games.
The PBA-powered squad, which included the likes of Ramon Fernandez, Alvin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim and Benjie Paras, finished second only to powerhouse team China.
On July 8, Ginebra will pay tribute to Jaworski’s basketball genius by retiring his jersey “No. 7.”
Although he embodied Ginebra’s “Never Say Die” spirit, Jaworski maintained that basketball isn’t really about winning.
He said it is about uniting to achieve a common goal.
“’Yun po ang maganda sa basketball eh, hindi pwede pag bago ang sapatos mo panalo ka na... hindi lang pagandahan ng uniporme ito, hindi lang paartehan ito,” said the 66-year-old basketball great.
“Pwede kang umarte paminsan. Pero totoo po ito. Kung gusto niyong manalo, magsama sama kayo, makiisa ka... kung buwaya ka dapat sa Manila Zoo ka.”