THE outpouring of well-wishes and support was expected especially from the group that has always been his second family.
A colleague and former Ginebra San Miguel players – from Manila, Australia, and all the way to Las Vegas - came out in the open and expressed their love and affection for playing-coach and Living Legend Robert Jaworski Sr.
Longtime assistant Rino Salazar and former wards from the early Ginebra days like Joey Loyzaga and Leo Isaac, to as late as Bal David, wish their charismatic leader well after the Jaworski family made an official statement on Friday detailing the cage great’s condition following a battle with a prolonged illness.
Although still shocked to learn that the Big J has battled pneumonia and a blood abnormality since last year, all four are hoping and keeping their fingers crossed the 75-year-old basketball icon is on his way to full recovery.
Salazar and Co., said they learned about the condition of the elder Jaworski in the official statement of the family posted by his son Ryan on his Facebook page Friday
“I hope and pray coach Sonny will be better soon,” said David, one of the last star players Jaworski handled during his final years as Ginebra playing-coach.
“I am praying that he will get well very soon,” added Salazar, the ever trusted deputy of Jaworski at the Ginebra bench, who has been based in Las Vegas for more than two decades now.
Loyzaga, 59, and brother of another Ginebra veteran Chito, recalled the time when he last saw and played for Jaworski in Manila two years ago during the PBA Legends Face-Off.
“That was the last time we talked and got together,” said Loyzaga from Australia, where he has settled following his 11-year PBA career. “That’s why I couldn’t believe when I got the news about him. Masakit para sa akin.”
Salazar, Loyzaga, Isaac, and David were part of Ginebra’s four championships under Jaworski one time at the other from 1986 to 1997.
Loyzaga, Isaac, and Salazar were with the team when it bagged its breakthrough title in the 1986 Open Conference, while David was with the last Ginebra team under Jaworski to win a PBA crown during the 1997 Commissioner’s Cup.
Salazar served as Jaworski’s assistant in the franchise’s first four championships in the league.
In 2017, the entire Ginebra team had a grand reunion celebrating the 20th year of its last championship under Jaworski at a time when Salazar and wife Rose were vacationing in the country.
Although the Big J has difficulty ‘regaining his health, weight, and normal well-being’ due to a blood ailment doctors discovered five years ago, the family assured he’s making good progress towards recovery.
His Ginebra family is one with him in reliving the team’s ‘never-say-die spirit.
“We are thinking of him during this time of illness and praying that he finds strength in the Lord and His never-ending supply of love,” said Salazar.
“My family and I have been saying our daily prayers for coach since the last time we saw each other in 2019,” said Loyzaga.