GUESS news of a Barangay Ginebra championship is something you take to the grave.
A day after the PBA’s most popular ballclub ended eight years of futility by winning the Governors Cup championship at the expense of Meralco, a long-time, never-say-die follower of the Kings went to the grave of his late grandfather to relay the piece of good news about their favorite team.
A euphoric Louie de Leon visited the tomb of his grandpa, Luis Cera, less than 24 hours after the Kings wrapped up their title series against the Bolts in six games at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
De Leon, 31, brought with him flowers and newspaper clippings that chronicled the Kings’ thrilling 91-88 win made possible by import Justin Brownlee’s clutch three-pointer at the buzzer.
After offering a prayer, De Leon went on and narrated to his late grandpa the riveting sequence in the final of five seconds of the game capped of course by Brownlee's improbable game winner.
“The day after Ginebra won the 2016 PBA finals, pinuntahan ko agad si Lolo to deliver the good news: ‘Champion na ulit yung favorite team namin!’ said De Leon in a touching narrative posted on his FB account.
De Leon went on and recounted how he used to watch Ginebra games with his grandfather when he was still alive. He remembered going home with him crying whenever the team lost, but always ecstatic after every win.
The father of one even cited the memorable Bal David game-winning shot at the buzzer during the 1999 All-Filipino Cup playoffs at Ultra when eight-seeded Ginebra stunned Asi Taulava and No.1 seed Talk ‘N Text.
“I will always cherish those moments. I miss you, Lo!,” added De Leon in his account.
Curious, SPIN.ph did some background checking on the Ginebra fan and later found out he’s the son of former PR man Reli de Leon, a close friend of the legendary ex-playing-coach of the Kings Robert Jaworski Sr.
When finally reached, Reli bared his son was a Jaworski and Ginebra die-hard since birth, a passion that strengthened their bond with his late father-in-law.
“Actually very close kay Bobby yang mag-lolo,” he related of Louie, who was the first grandchild of his old man. “Lumaki siya na puro Ginebra ang nakikita at naririnig, me being friends with Jaworski for a long time.”
According to Reli, the Big J got to visit his father-in-law a day before he died in 2011.
“Binisita pa ni Bobby yung biyenan ko sa house, I think, a day before siya namatay,” he recounted.
But long after Jaworski left Ginebra and even during those trying times when the team always came up short of a title, the young De Leon never wavered in his belief in and loyalty to the storied franchise.
No wonder the young De Leon was simply overjoyed on the stormy night of October 19 when Ginebra reigned anew as Kings of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league.
The elder De Leon – who watched the title-clinching game in the company of Jaworski – was actually surprised when he was informed about the FB post of his son.
“Nagulat talaga ako especially nung makita ko na yung post niya,” he admitted. “Even the rest of the family nagulat din. Hindi nila alam na gagawin niya.”
Jaworski, 70, has also been told about it and was likewise touched by the young De Leon's gesture.
“Maski siya nagulat, pero masaya rin,” he said.
But perhaps no one was happier than De Leon’s grand old man, who, for all we know, might be cheering 'Ginebra! Ginebra! Ginebra!' in Great Beyond right this very minute.