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    Mapua’s beloved ‘Amang’ remembered with fondness by former players

    Feb 7, 2022
    Amang Lopez won with Mapua as player, coach and athletic director.

    THE man credited for nurturing the early careers of cage legends Alvin Patrimonio, Atoy Co, Freddie Hubalde, Bong Ramos, all the way to Chito Victolero, is now gone.

    Valerio ‘Amang’ Lopez passed away last January 30 due to old age.

    He was 95.

    Lopez spent more than half of his life at Mapua beginning as a player in the late 1940s, coach, athletic director, and later on as consultant.

    He was very much involved with the five NCAA men’s championships won by the Cardinals – 1949 as a player, 1965 as a coach, and 1981, 1990 and 1991 as athletic director.

    And it was also during that stretch that he got to work with several Cardinal stars who would later on carve legendary careers in Philippine basketball, including Patrimonio, Co, and Hubalde, who own a combined six PBA Most Valuable Player awards.

    “Very caring sa mga athletes yan, pero mahigpit sa mga pasaway,” recalled Ramos, who was a part of the Mapua unit that won the NCAA title in 1981 behind a team that also included future fellow coaches Leo Isaac and Junel Baculi.

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    “Maingay yan kapag dumarating sa gym. Minsan galit pa tapos magsesermon ng malakas,” Ramos added. “Pero mabait yan and will always suggest the best for anyone.”

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    Victolero never experienced winning a title with the Cardinals during his stint with the school in the early 90s.

    But he did remember very well how hands-on Lopez was as the school’s athletic director notwithstanding he was already in his mid-60s by those time.

    “Masayahin yan at mahilig mang-alaska, pero kapag seryoso na, siguradong makakakuha ka ng mga pointers sa kanya sa mga sinasabi niya. Basta makinig ka lang,” said the now head coach of Magnolia in the PBA.

    And the most memorable lesson he learned from the long-time Mapua personnel?

    “Madaling maging player, mahirap magpaka-player. Best quote ni sir Amang yan,” said Victolero.

    Crispa Redmanizers coach

    Lopez, who once served as coach of the Crispa Redmanizers in the late 50s, also stressed among the players the significance of completing school and graduating with a degree.

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    “Hindi puwedeng hindi ka papasok sa class mo. Wala yung ayus-ayos sa kanya sa grades. Kapag bagsak ka, bagsak ka,” said Victolero, the 46-year-old recipient of the 2018 PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year award.

    “Ang katwiran niya kasi, future mo yun, hindi naman kasi lahat naging successful sa basketball,” added Victolero. “He wants us to get our degree, which is super laki ng natulong sa amin.”

    Eventually, Victolero claimed 80 percent out of his batch graduated with degree when they were through with schooling.

    “Kaya mahal na mahal namin yan si Amang,” he said.

    Both Ramos and Victolero would later became coach of the Cardinals when their playing days were over, basically on the recommendations of Lopez himself.

    Lopez was still athletic director when Ramos called the shots for Mapua in 1997-98, while he was already a consultant when Victolero was hired in 2009 all the way to 2012.

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    “Nung nag-coach ako sa Mapua very thankful ako sa kanya kasi isa siya sa nag-approved sa pag-hire sa akin bilang head coach,” said Victolero. “May go signal ni sir Amang kaya suportado niya ako during my time as coach of Mapua.”

    Lopez has endeared himself to the entire Mapua community and the players he worked and met along the way that they were with him when he celebrated virtually his 95th birthday last December 16.

    By that time, they knew all along he was already having problems with his health during to his age.

    “Mahina na rin talaga siya noong huling birthday niya,” recalled Ramos.

    “Nung birthday niya nag-message kaming lahat ng mga alaga niya,” said Victolero, adding despite being old, Lopez could still recognize the players he was talking to.

    “Alam niya kung sino at sa boses mo,” said the champion coach.

    That’s how really close Amang had become to all his players and protégés.

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    Rest in God’s hands, Amang Lopez.

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    Amang Lopez won with Mapua as player, coach and athletic director.
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