FORMER teammates and colleagues were both shocked and saddened upon learning the passing away of former La Salle stalwart Jonas Mariano on Wednesday due to heart attack.
The son of cage great Jimmy Mariano had long been battling a history of heart ailment, one which saw him ending up in critical condition November of last year after suffering a stroke.
He was 45.
“I saw the Facebook message and was shocked,” said Alaska team manager and alternate governor Dicky Bachmann, a former teammate of Mariano with the Taft-based school.
Also stunned by his death was another La Salle teammate in Jason Webb, now head coach of Star Hotshots.
"Us La Sallian teammates came together the first time he suffered a stroke to help out over a year ago, and we all thought he was already fine," related Webb.
"It just shows how fragile life is."
Mariano won back-to-back UAAP men’s basketball titles with the Green Archers in 1989 and 1990. He was also a member of the La Salle team which forfeited the deciding match of the 1991 finals against Far Eastern University after the league Board ruled the holding of a Game Three following a technicality that arose in the Archers’ Game Two win and a sweep of the title series.
Among his former teammates at La Salle then coached by Derrick Pumaren, include Webb, his Star Hotshots assistant Tony Boy Espinosa, Bachmann, Jun Limpot, Globalport coach Johnedel Cardel, San Miguel team manager Gee Abanilla, Joey Santamaria Rafa Dinglasan, Noli Locsin, Dwight Lago, and the late coach Dong Vergeire.
Known for his outside shooting and movie star-look, Mariano also once played with the Philippine youth team.
He was picked by Tondena (Ginebra) as the 17th overall pick in the 1994 draft, but never got to play in the PBA.
His father Jimmy was an Olympian and pioneer of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league, where he saw action from 1975 to 1979.