MANILA, Philippines – Tributes poured in for Carlos "Bobong" Velez over the past couple of days after the former boss of Vintage Sports passed away due to illness last Saturday night at the age of 71.
As the head of Vintage Enterprises, Velez acquired broadcasting rights to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 1982, and went on to revolutionize the way that the league was presented to basketball-loving Filipinos.
In his column for The Philippine Star, Bill Velasco – a member of Vintage Sports' roster of commentators and analysts – noted that the broadcasting industry owes (Velez) "a debt that can never be repaid."
"To a larger extent than most people realize, we are where we are because of him," he wrote.
On ANC's "Hardball" on Monday evening, current ABAP executive director Ed Picson hailed Velez as a "visionary" whose legacy will live on forever in Philippine sports broadcasting history.
"He revolutionized … basketball coverage as well as other sports by instituting drastic reforms in the manner that commentators were doing the coverage," said Picson, another veteran broadcaster whose career took off with help from Velez.
"The thing with Mr. Velez is that he not only knew what the audience wanted, but also what they needed," he said. "It really brought out a new dimension in sports broadcasting."
Andy Jao, for his part, remembers Velez as "an elder brother, a father, a boss."
"He was very patient. He wanted to do something new about the coverage. I've never had any communication studies, but even though I had my faults and my mistakes, he was very patient with us," Jao said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
"For me, he is one of the real big innovators of the PBA, and that's why we're still here today," he added.
Meralco coach Norman Black is grateful that Velez gave him a chance to put his degree in English Communications to good use. The multi-titled mentor noted that Velez was "a very generous man" who offered many people – including Black – to pursue their dreams in broadcasting.
"I thought he really professionalized the broadcast for the PBA," Black also said of Velez. "You can kind of say that he was the father of broadcasting here in the Philippines, particularly for the PBA."
"He was able to put together a great broadcasting team, a great production team, and it's something that Filipinos enjoyed for a lot of years under his leadership. They enjoyed watching the PBA games. Bobong was a great man, he was a great man," he added.
The PBA is set to pay tribute to Velez in the semifinals of the Commissioner's Cup.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.