THERE is something about Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan that boggles one of his best-known players to this day.
Atoy Co said he still couldn't explain how Dalupan can win 15 PBA championships - and 52 titles in all by an unofficial count including those in the UAAP, NCAA and other leagues - in a sport that has greatly evolved in terms of methods and srategy over a career spanning four decades.
“I really cannot explain the magic that he has,” said Co, a day after the legendary coach died from complications brought about by pneumonia on Wednesday night.
Co, now the coach of Mapua in the NCAA, said Dalupan won most of his championships in the 70s and 80s but continued to win through the 80s and 90s by sticking to his style of mostly finding advantages in match-ups at a time when methods became very scientific in the pro league.
“Who is going to question lahat ng achievements niya? Hindi naman ganito ka-scientific ang basketball na may system. Pero siya, minamatch-match lang niya ‘yung mga tao, napapagana niya ‘yung team. At naipapanalo niya,” said Co.
[See Bye, Maestro]
Co said he was even more impressed when, after his stint with Crispa, Dalupan also made winners out of Great Taste in 1987 and even Purefoods in 1991.
“Nakapagtataka na 'nung lumipat siya sa Purefoods at Great Taste, napag-champion niya. Ang hirap ipaliwanag,” said Co.
Co said the success all the more validated 'The Maestro's' greatness.
“Sino naman ako para magsabi pero sa tingin ko, kung nag-adopt siguro si coach, baka tamarin na rin siya mag-coach,” said the former PBA MVP and one of its' 25 Greatest Players.
Co said he feels blessed to have played most of his peak years with a coach he considered his second father.
“Happy ako na right after college, when I joined Crispa, he was the coach," Co said. "When I was in college, you know already about Baby Dalupan in college kasi winning coach siya. Malaki ang respeto ko sa kanya.”