This Day in PBA History: Jaworski, 44, plays big for Añejo

Rey Joble

Posted at Jul 06 2022 09:01 PM

Arwind Santos has been setting a standard for players 40 and older in the PBA today.

He was the oldest player to win the PBA Press Corps Defensive Player of the Year award at 41. In the just-concluded Leo Awards, Santos also made it to the Mythical Five and the All-Defensive Team.

A few weeks ago, he capped another milestone to his already checkered career by becoming the 16th local player to reach the PBA’s 10,000-point club.

Santos is among the few active players who continue to see action north of 40 years old, joining Reynel Hugnatan (43) and the oldest player in the PBA, Rafi Reavis (44).

But on this day, 32 years ago, 44-year-old Robert Jaworski, the playing coach of Añejo Rum 65, showcased his brilliance when he pumped in 29 points, including the game-winning free throws in their win against expansion team Pop Cola in the elimination game of the 1990 All-Filipino Conference in Cagayan de Oro.

Just a conference prior, Jaworski led the 65ers to a finals run, but lost against Shell in a finals that was marred by a controversial walkout.

The Big J played a total of 49 games during the 1990 season and still averaged 11.1 points per game (fifth best among the team’s local players behind Rey Cuenco, Rudy Distrito, Dante Gonzalgo and team captain Chito Loyzaga).

Jaworski led his team in assist (5.9 apg), while also grabbing (3.7 rpg) in 26 minutes of action in the 1990 season. 

Similar to Santos’ feat, Jaworski was also included in the Mythical Team at the age of 40 in 1986, the same season where he led Ginebra to its first ever championship.

Looking back, Distrito recalled how his PBA career flourished with Ginebra coached by Jaworski.

“Hindi naman ako magaling na player, kaso nabuhay kami dahil kay Coach Sonny,” said Distrito. “Kasi kung titingnan mo naman, wala namang star player talaga sa team.”

Mukesh Advani, who played a few years for Ginebra under Jaworski, recalled how his old coach leads by example.

“He wants everybody on the team to play hard, work hard, even on practice,” said Advani. 

“We practiced twice a day and you can see that Coach Jaworski plays so hard in practice because he wants to set an example to his players. He never missed a practice, except probably one time when he got sick after a collision with Larry Villanil during our training and of course, when he’s in the US, scouting for imports.”