THE country’s grand old man of basketball is dead.
Gonzalo `Lito’ Puyat II, the two-time president of the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) and longtime president of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (predecessor of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas ), died on Monday due to asthma.
He was 79.
A scion of the rich Puyat family whose father is pioneer industrialist Gonzalo Puyat, he was the only Filipino and Asian to become president of the world governing body for basketball, serving as Fiba chief from 1976 to 1984.
Referred to in local sports circle by his famous nickname 'Spar,' Puyat was also the longest-serving president of the BAP from 1969 to 1995. It was during his term that the country hosted for the first and only time the World Basketball Championship in 1978.
His term as BAP president was without controversy.
In the mid 70s, team owners from the defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (Micaa) clashed with his BAP leadership and formed the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 1975 – the first play-for-pay league in Asia.
Arrangement for viewing and interment will be announced later.