Olympian and PBA great Elias Tolentino passes away at age 75
Elias Tolentino, a former Olympian and PBA cager, passed away peavefully on Sunday. He was 75. Photo from Jose Maria Bonifacio Escoda Facebook

ANOTHER great basketball player from the past died peacefully on Sunday.

The country mourns the passing of Olympian and former PBA player Elias Viray Tolentino, whose exploits in the 60s and early 70s made him one of the household names in Philippine basketball.

He was 75.

His remains lie at the Presidential Suite of the Loyola Memorial Chapel in Guadalupe. Interment will be announced later.

Tolentino began his brilliant career at a young age, winning an NCAA juniors basketball title with Jose Rizal College in 1959. He also figured in the 1960 finals as a senior player with the Heavy Bombers, but the school lost to Freddie Webb and the Letran Knights.

He would later suit up for the fabled Crispa Redmanizers and won a MICAA championship in 1962. After playing two years with the Danny Floro-owned franchise, Tolentino took his act to YCO and played with the team from 1963 to 1974, where he was part of the group that bagged the title in 1963 in which Webb was among his teammates.

It was during the time he joined YCO that Tolentino became part of the national team.

He was with the Philippine quintet that won the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championship (now the FIBA Asia Cup) in Taipei in 1963 and a member of the national squad that participated in the qualifier to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Four years later, Tolentino would finally play in the Olympics as part of the PH team to the 1968 Mexico Games. In 1969, he was with the Filipino squad that finished third in the ABC meet in Bangkok.

He was already at the twilight of his career by the time he turned pro in 1976, but still good enough to land a spot with Toyota and later on, with Seven-Up (1977). Tolentino averaged 5.0 points in 53 games in the PBA.

Tolentino would dabble into politics after his playing years, becoming a barangay captain and city councilor of Makati.

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