Cecile Dalupan thankful for outpouring of love for 'Maestro': 'We knew he was larger than life'
Baby Dalupan's family felt overwhelmed as former players and fans paid their respects to 'The Maestro.' Dante Peralta

"HE could be strict but he was always supportive."

This was how Cecile Dalupan described her father, the late Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan, a few days after the legendary coach passed away due to complications brought about by pneumonia. 

"We were very fortunate for that long experience with him as a father and lolo, although it was still too short," she said.

"It's a unique experience to have him as a father because we knew the influence and impact he had (on Philippine basketball). Maybe [it was] not so clear nung bata pa kami, but as we watched, we knew he was larger than life. Always larger than life to us," she added. 

So influential Dalupan was in Philippine basketball community that tributes poured from former players and fans alike when the news of his passing came out.

Among those who paid their respects to Dalupan were his former players Atoy Co and Robert Jaworski. Ginebra coach Tim Cone also showed up together with some of his players on Saturday at the Chapel of the Imaculate Concepcion in Ateneo. 

"We are very grateful to everyone for their outpouring of love and support for our dad... We're very touched," said Cecile, who oversaw the printing of the book about ‘The Maestro.’

"At the book launch last year, we already saw that and we are again so grateful because he really experienced that and saw how much he meant to so many people. To have that in light of what just happened, it is an affirmation once again."

Indeed, Dalupan carved a legacy that will long endure.

Dalupan amassed 15 championships in the PBA, including a grand slam with Crispa in 1976. He also led the University of the East to seven straight titles UAAP men's basketball titles from 1965 to 1972, a record that still stands until today. Overall, he had 52 trophies under his belt. 

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But what Dalupan left goes beyond the silverware, as he inspired the next generations of coaches. 

"I think he set the standard for us coaches particularly at the pro level," said Meralco coach Norman Black, who guided the San Miguel Beermen to a PBA grand slam in 1989. 

"Tim Cone has surpassed him in a way as far as wins are concerned, but I don't think anybody can surpass him as far as his impact on basketball here in the Philippines," he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros