Former PBA players pay final respects to Danny Florencio in his final journey home
Former teammates and rivals pay their final respects to PBA great Danny Florencio during a mass at the Our Lady of the Abandoned church in Marikina.  Photos courtesy of Ariel Morales

FRIENDS as well as former teammates and foes alike paid their final respects tothe late great Danny Florencio in his final journey home.

A mass at the Our Lady of the Abandoned church in Marikina and a get-together later were held in honor of the former PBA and national team player, who passed away last February 25 in California following a massive stroke. He was 70.

Living Legend and former senator Robert Jaworski Sr. led those in attendance who paid their last respects to the player considered among the early high flyers in Philippine basketball.

Jaworski and Florencio were once college rivals who battled each other in the epic Game 3 of the 1965 UAAP men’s basketball finals which the Jaworski-led University of the East won by beating University of Santo Tomas, 88-84, despite the 40-point explosion of ‘Daredevil Danny.’

The two would later on become teammates briefly at Toyota during their pro careers.

Jaworski, 72, was joined by Crispa greats Fortunato ‘Atoy’ Co and Rudy Soriano – the original ‘Magic Man’ – Orly Castello, Emer Legaspi, Jimmy Mariano, Turo Valenzona, Billy ‘Haba-Haba’ Abarrientos, Onchie Dela Cruz, Amang Ladores, Jing Aldanese, Ed Roque, Orly Castelo, Jen Lucindo, and current PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.

Florencio’s wife Hermosa was around to meet and reminisce with the players the good old days of his late husband, whose remains were cremated.

"Nagpasalamat siya (Mrs. Florencio) especially when she learned the PBA gave a tribute to her husband," said Marcial. "Actually, masaya. Ang daming kuwentuhan at tsaka pagbabalik tanaw."

Following his memorable stint with UST, Florencio, a native of Quiapo, Manila, went on and played in the defunct MICAA, where he suited up for YCO under his college coach, the late Caloy Loyzaga, and later on with Crispa coached by ‘The Maestro’ Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan. He won championships playing under the two fabled ballclubs.

But Florencio would cement his place in local basketball history as the hero in the Philippines’ dramatic 83-80 win over South Korea for the 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championship (now known as the FIBA-Asia). He scored the country’s final four points, including the title-clinching free throws to frustrate the host country.

Jaworski, Mariano, and Roque were among Florencio’s teammates in that victorious team.

He also played as part of the national team in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics held in Mexico and Munich, respectively, and likewise suited up in the 1969 and 1971 ABC meet, and the Asian Games in 1966, 1970, and 1974.

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As a PBA pioneer, Florencio saw action for teams U-Tex, Toyota, 7-Up, and Galerie Dominique from 1975 to 1983.

He made history by becoming the first pro player to breach the 60-point mark when he fired 64 points in a 136-121 loss to Toyota in November 5, 1977. That same season, Florencio averaged a high 32.3 points a game, a record that would stand for the next 14 years until top gunner Allan Caidic broke the mark.

Florencio would also reach the 50-point barrier four times and scored 40 plus points six times.

He became the ninth player to become a member of the 5,000-point plateau in 1981, and then retired no. 8 all-time in the league’s scoring average.

In 2000, he was selected as part of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players.

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