OUTPOURING of tribute and gratitude overflowed following the death of basketball innovator Nic Jorge on Saturday.
From dear friend Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), PBA star Kiefer Ravena, to coaches Jerry Codinera, Ryan Gregorio, and Patrick Fran, just about everybody had a grand time recalling the contributions Jorge did to them personally as well as Philippine basketball in general.
Barrios, the former PBA commissioner. referred to Jorge as an ‘icon of Philippine basketball,’ while Ravena admitted the 78-year-old Jorge saw him grow up from a kid learning the rudiments of the game in his famous Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training (BEST) Center to where he is in his career right now.
“Nakakalungkot kasi nakita niya kami lumaki ni Thirdy. Diyan (BEST) talaga ako nagsimula, e,” recalled Ravena, who attends BEST-related events whenever his schedule would permit.
“Yung basic ko sa basketball sa kanila ko natutunan kaya grabe pasasalamat ko sa kanila,” he added, while extending the condolences of the entire Ravena family to Jorge’s widow Marilyn and his children.
"As one of the pioneers of the MILO Best camp, I had the opportunity to work with him at the early stage of my career, I considered him as one of my mentors of the sport we both love so much," Codinera said for his part.
Barrios disclosed the big help Jorge extended to him in his current capacity as SBP executive director.
“I’m very sad with coach Nic’s passing,” he said upon hearing of the death of the former PBA and national men’s basketball coach. “He devoted most of his efforts for the benefit of the youth with his BEST Center.
“He was very supportive of me in the SBP. I personally owe him a lot.”
Fran also said the BEST Center was a big help in him pursuing a PBA career as a player and later as part of the Meralco Bolts coaching staff.
He mentioned cousin and fellow PBA star Rey Evangelista and former Rookie of the Year Zandro ‘Jun’ Limpot as among his batch mates in the well-known scientific basketball program.
Gregorio for his part, said it was under Jorge that he got his first break in coaching after serving as his deputy with the University of the Philippines team in 1997.
The partnership was extra special for Gregorio, now special assistant to SBP president Al S. Panlilio, as the Maroons made it to the Final Four, a feat that wouldn’t be duplicated 21 years later.