Basketball icon Robert Jaworksi and footballer Paulino Alcantara, who played for FC Barcelona in the early 20th century, topped the list of the latest 10 outstanding athletes who will be enshrined next month in the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame.
Alcantara and Jaworski bannered the fourth batch of a distinguished roster of standouts in eight sports released jointly Friday afternoon by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee after a thorough screening conducted by a panel led by both sports bodies.
The list also included Dionisio “Chito” Calvo, who coached the national basketball and football teams; swimmers Gertrudes Lozada and Eric Buhain; boxers Leopoldo Serrantes and Roel Velasco; bowler Arianne Cerdeña; and track and field greats Elma Muros-Posadas and Rogelio Onofre.
Long before Argentine striker Lionel Messi entered the club, the Iloilo-born Alcantara was one of the brightest stars of Spanish football powerhouse Barcelona at the turn of the 20th century.
Alcantra set several milestones with the club, including the most number of goals scored for the club with 395 goals in 399 matches, a record that seemed unreachable until Messi surpassed it eventually. Alcantra was a member of the club that won the Spanish championship five times and 10 Catalan championships.
The “Big J”
Known by his moniker “Big J,” Jaworski captured the imagination of local sports fans like no other since his debut with the multi-titled University of the East Warriors under fabled mentor Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan in the 1960s, then in the 1990s with the never-say-die Ginebra San Miguel squad in the PBA. He bowed out as the oldest player to play in the league at 50 in 1997, winning titles with the club.
Known for his feisty temper, Jaworski suited up for the national team that won the Asian Basketball Confederation, as FIBA Asia was known then, championship in 1967 and 1973 when the tournament was both held in Manila.
As national coach, Jaworski was the architect of the country’s silver-medal finish in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games with a team bannered by Allan Caidic and Avelino “Samboy” Lim.
Jaworksi parlayed his huge popularity into entering politics, winning as senator in the 1998 national election as an independent candidate.
Calvo was a versatile athlete, winning men’s diving gold medal in the 1921 Far Eastern Games, the forerunner of the Asian Games, held in Shanghai, China, while clinching a gold with the men’s basketball squad in the 1927 Manila edition of the sportsfest.
He was also a member of the national quintet that placed fifth overall in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games that also starred, among others, Ambrosio Padilla, Jacinto Ciria Cruz and Charlie Borck.
In football, Calvo called the shots for the national teams in the 1934 Far Eastern Games and the 1954 Asian Games, which were both held in Manila.
A freestyle specialist, swimmer Lozada represented the country in the 1954 Melbourne Olympics in the women’s 100 and 400-meter freestyle events and a silver medalist in the 400-meter freestyle race in her Asian Games debut in 1958 in Tokyo. She appeared in 3 more Asiads after that.
Buhain was in the spotlight in 1991 the Manila Southeast Asian Games, emerging with 5 golds and was adjudged the outstanding athlete of the sportsfest.
A veteran of the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Buhain became the youngest chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission in 2001 at the age of 30, serving the agency until 2004.
Olympic bowling ‘gold’
Cerdeña is best remembered for winning the women’s bowling gold medal when the sport made its only appearance in the Olympics at the 1988 edition held in Seoul. Since the discipline was only a demonstration sport, her achievement was not credited in the official Olympic medal tally.
Nonetheless, Cerdena proved her mettle in other international competitions, bagging a gold medal in the women’s team of five in the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, as well as a silver medal in the trios with the late Lita dela Rosa and Bong Coo in the 1983 FIQ bowling championships in Caracas, Venezuela.
Serrantes and Velasco captured boxing bronze medals in succession in the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Summer Games, respectively, in the men’s light flyweight division.
Sprinter Onofre is a 3-time Olympian and represented the country in the Rome, Tokyo and Mexico editions of the Olympics from 1960 to 1968, and also won a gold medal in the men’s 4x100-meter relay in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.
Muros-Posadas is one of the most durable and bemedalled track and field athletes to grace the local sports scene.
The Magdiwang town, Romblon native won 8 women’s long jump titles in the Southeast Asian Games and completed a sprint double in the women’s 100 and 200-meter dashes in the 1995 edition held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Posadas is also a veteran of the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympiads.
PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, who served as the head of selection committee said: “It was a journey of discovery. It is very enriching for me to be part of these awards. Congratulations to all the fourth batch of enshrines.”
Serving as Ramirez’s deputy on the selection committee, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino shared the PSC head’s sentiments, saying: “I really appreciate the work of the committee for the recognition of this recognition of our sports heroes, who serve as an inspiration to all.”
“I have been blessed to be part of all four enshrinements. It has been a fruitful and joyful experience,” noted panel member and former national swimmer Akiko Thomson Guevarra, Philippine Olympians Association president, a veteran of the 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
As part of their recognition, the latest Philippine Sports Hall of Fame honorees will also receive a P200,000 cash bonus and well-crafted trophy.
The PSC announced that the date and venue for the induction next month will be announced later.
FROM THE ARCHIVES