Chito Loyzaga on Ginebra then and now: 'We played our hearts out for our fans'
Former Ginebra defensive specialist Chito Loyzaga was named to the league's 40 Greatest Players list last year by a committee that included Robert Jaworski. Jerome Ascano

OTHER than its legendary coach, the Ginebra team of yesteryears that became known for its never-say-die spirit didn’t have any superstars and was basically made up of blue-collar players who knew their respective roles.

It’s one big difference former Ginebra forward Chito Loyzaga sees between today’s version of the Kings and the one he played for under the great Robert Jaworski Sr. during the 80s and 90s.

A noted fierce defender who anchored Ginebra’s defensive wall during his stint with the team from 1986 to 1993, Loyzaga recalled how Jaworski would remind them time and again about their responsibility to play not just for themselves, but for the millions of basketball fans who watch them play.

“If you look at the lineup (of Ginebra before), we didn’t have plenty of superstars back then, yet, once our hearts were tested come game time, coach Sonny always reminded us to play with all our heart, not just play for ourselves, not just for our families or for our team, but we also performed at our best for the fans who spend hard-earned money just to watch us play,” Loyzaga told Spin.ph on Monday.

[See Marlou Aquino on a Jaworski comeback at Ginebra: 'Naku, mas dadagundong ang mga coliseum']

Loyzaga’s observation comes a day after Ginebra suffered a stunning 69-68 loss to Barako Bull in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup showdown in Binan, Laguna.

The setback left the Kings still winless in two outings and at the cellar of the standings in the company of expansion franchises KIA Motors and Blackwater.

While the 56-year-old Loyzaga admitted he hasn’t been watching Ginebra games of late, the son of Philippine basketball legend Caloy Loyzaga explained that what’s important in every setback is the ability to bounce back.

“The only thing I can say is they (Kings) have to perform well against every opponent they face,” he said.

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“And whatever setback they have from the previous day, it’s important they look forward to the next game at di na nila dalhin yung pagkatalo nila sa next game,” added Loyzaga, who also served as UAAP commissioner in 2013.

Although Loyzaga admitted today’s game is completely different from the one he used to play more than 20 years ago, the element of team work, hard work, and resilience should always be preached among today’s generation of Kings, who are currently on a seven-year title drought.

[See Dorian Pena ahead of move to Ginebra: 'I will not be papogi']

“They are a team so they should work together. We all know the meaning of the word team is together, everyone achieves more. I believe they can achieve more,” explained the former seven-time league all-defensive team member.

Loyzaga, part of the first all-pro national squad that won the silver medal in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, won a total of four league titles with Ginebra. He was named to the league's 40 Greatest Players list last year by a committee that included Jaworski.

The Kings have a week to regroup and figure out a way to make the necessary adjustment before plunging back to action on Sunday against newly-crowned Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava