FOR someone forever linked with Toyota, it was hard to imagine Robert Jaworski donning the fabled green and gold jersey of the Corollas' loathed rival, Crispa.
But basketball’s Living Legend did exactly that years before the Tamaraws and Redmanizers established their celebrated rivalry in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Pilo Pumaren, lieutenant to coaching guru Virgilio`Baby’ Dalupan, would be the first to attest to that.
Although he can no longer recall the year, Pumaren can still clearly remember the day when Dalupan inserted the young Jaworski in the Crispa roster in the old MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) while the prized point guard was undergoing residency with the University of the East Warriors.
“Ang ginawa ni coach Baby, pinaglaro niya [si Jaworski] sa Crispa para doble praktis,” Pumaren narrated as part of his speech during the special tribute handed out by UE to Dalupan this week.
“Talagang hinahasa niya (si Sonny).”
That set off a formula which Dalupan also adopted with other potential Red Warriors who came after the Big J.
“Dumating ‘yung panahon na ganoon na ang ginagawa niya (Dalupan),” said the patriarch of the Pumaren basketball clan. “Yung mga ibang UE players pinag-eensayo na rin niya sa Crispa para mabilis ang development nila.”
Former UE and Crispa stalwart Rudy Soriano was one of the many who later benefited from such kind of training by the `Maestro.’
“Noong nag-MICAA kami, first year namin puro runner-up lang. Pero ‘yung mga sumunod na taon, nag-champion na kami,” said the original `Magic Man’ of Philippine basketball.
The formula obviously worked as the Red Warriors reigned as UAAP men’s champions for seven consecutive seasons from 1965-1971, a record that remained untouched to this day.