DANNY Florencio, one of the early high-flyers in Philippine basketball, passed away on Saturday in San Francisco (Sunday, Manila time) after suffering a stroke.
He was 70.
Florencio was known for his acrobatic shots that paved way for exciting players such as Samboy Lim and Bong Alvarez, earning the tag as the original 'Skywalker' in the PBA.
Born in Quiapo, Manila, Florencio rose to fame as the high-scoring machine of University of Sto. Tomas, a reputation he would take during his stints with the national team and both in the old MICAA and Asia's first ever play-for-pay league.
He played for U-tex, 7-Up, Toyota, and Galerie Dominique in the PBA, where he established the record as the first PBA player to hit the 60-point barrier after tallying 64 points for 7-Up in a losing cause against Toyota, 136-121, in 1977.
The 64-point output still ranks among the best all-time, one-game individual record at no. 4
During that same season, "Daredevil Danny' averaged 32.3 points in 39 games for the Uncolas, which still stands as the highest single-season average by a local.
Florencio went on and finished with a career average of 16.9 points, among the PBA's top 20 until today. He was the ninth player to reach the 5,000-point plateau and was scoring champion twice in 1977 and 1978.
He was later named among the PBA's 25 Greatest Players and inducted in the league's Hall of Fame.
There are those who will argue though, that Florencio’s best days were spent during his amateur years, when he suited up for UST and battled Robert Jaworski and the University of the East Warriors in a memorable UAAP Finals.
He suited up for YCO in the defunct MICAA and then formed a shooting tandem as the cornerstone of Crispa.
But he was best remembered for delivering in the clutch as the Philippines beat South Korea for the 1967 FIBA Asia Championship in Seoul. He also played in the national team that settled for the silver medal in the same tournament four years later in Tokyo, Japan.
Florencio twice played in the Olympics during the 1968 Mexico Games and the 1972 edition in Munich, which turned out to be the last time the country sent a basketball team to the quadrennial meet.
Ironically, Florencio returned to the country a few years back and visited former national teammate and fellow PBA pioneer Joaquin ‘Jake’ Rojas in Cebu. Rojas, 79, died just last month.
Now the two are playing together in the great beyond.