FORMER PBA star Francis Arnaiz admitted he was amazed by the enduring popularity of Barangay Ginebra, over three decades since he played for the club alongside good friend Robert Jaworski.
The 66-year-old Hall of Famer watched the team play for the first time in a long while with Jaworski during Game 2 of the PBA Governors Cup finals against Meralco on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The US-based great said he was astonished to see how the legion of Ginebra supporters have stuck with the team through thick and thin all these years.
“It all started when we joined Ginebra. It’s unbelievable the fans are still there,” said the legendary guard out of Ateneo. “Homecourt advantage lagi ang Ginebra. It seems lahat ng tao nasa kanila.”
Jaworski and Arnaiz made up the popular backcourt partner of Toyota during the first decade of the league, a close alliance that netted the fabled organization a total of nine championships.
Following the disbandment of the franchise, the duo took their act to Gilbey’s Gin in 1984. A season after, Jaworski assumed the position of playing-coach when the team changed its name to Ginebra.
Arnaiz played with Jaworski during those early years when Ginebra's never-say-die mantra took roots.
“Surprised? I’m not sure,” Arnaiz said when asked about the reception of the predominantly Ginebra crowd that made up the 16,159 fans inside the Big Dome, site of many of his and Jaworski’s glory years together.
“I’m just happy that Senator Jaworski started it all.”