BARANGAY Ginebra pulled off another coup when legends Robert Jaworski Sr. and Francis Arnaiz watched Game Two of the PBA Governors Cup Finals together on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jaworski and Arnaiz, whose illustrious backcourt partnership produced a number of championships for Toyota and later laid the foundation for Ginebra’s never-say-die squad, arrived together at the Big Dome early in the second quarter and the Kings trailing the Meralco Bolts, 27-24.
The crowd erupted in jubilation upon seeing the duo making their way to ringside, although people had a hard time recognizing Arnaiz, 66, who migrated to the U.S. shortly after retiring from basketball after Ginebra won its first ever league championship during the 1986 Open Conference.
The connection between the two actually dates back to their pre-PBA days as they were also teammates at Meralco in the defunct MICAA.
As far as Arnaiz's memory is concerned, it's the first time he watched a game live at the Big Dome with his good, old bosom buddy.
"You know what, together with him dito sa Araneta, I think so," said Arnaiz, who's set to leave the country on the 24th.
Asked what they talked about while they were watching the Kings and Bolts grind it out, Jaworski said it has something to do with age.
"A while ago, I told him we cannot play," said the Big J eliciting laughter from his audience.
Ginebra didn't disappoint the two Hall of Fame players as it pulled off an 86-76 comeback win to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
San Miguel arranged for the two to watch the game together since Arnaiz has been in town for a vacation.
“Senator Jaworski called me up and told me that Francis Arnaiz is in town. So we asked him if he (Arnaiz) was interested to see the game,” related Yvette Katigbak-Ambrocio, Business Communications Corporate Affairs officer of San Miguel to SPIN.ph.
Arnaiz relented, paving the way for a public reunion for one of the greatest backcourt tandems in the pro league.
Katigbak-Ambrocio said Arnaiz will be in the country for another week before going back to Sacramento, California, where he had been based for more than 30 years now.
Both Jaworski and Arnaiz were supposed to go inside the Ginebra dugout at halftime for a short pep talk, but decided not to push through as they had to accommodate fans who were asking for photo ops and autographs from the two.
The Big J and Mr. Clutch won nine championships together while manning the backcourt for the Tamaraws in a celebrated partnership from 1975 to 1984.
When Toyota disbanded, the two stuck together and transferred to Gilbey’s Gin. After just one season, Jaworski assumed the role of playing-coach when the franchise became known as Ginebra where they will play together for two more years before a knee injury forced Arnaiz to finally hang his jersey.