TO mark its 45th season, the PBA recognized the contributions of individuals who had a hand in the success of the league for more than four decades.
Longtime San Miguel utility man Raffy Hanopol, PBA employee Gerry Mesias, and avid fans Jhun ‘Sharon’ Nuestro and Tess Villanueva were honored with the first-ever Service Awards during the annual Leo Awards on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Plaques of appreciation were handed to the quartet by Commissioner Willie Marcial in the presence of the league board headed by chairman Ricky Vargas.
Hanopol was honored with the Best Bida Team Staff for having worked around the league especially with the SMC franchise. Hanopol began working in the league during its inception in 1975, but has long been associated with the Beermen, who he still serves until now as one of the team’s senior staff.
Mesias meanwhile, was named Outstanding Employee awardee of the PBA.
Currently the head of the PBA ticketing office, Mesias is the longest-serving employee of the league, having worked for all 10 commissioners from the time of the late founding chief Leo Prieto all the way to Marcial.
“Actually nag-start talaga ako 1981 pa, pero naging regular employee ako nung 1982. Kaya yun ang considered kong year na nagsimula dito sa PBA,” said Mesias, who shared the special night with his whole family.
Nuestro and Villanueva, two loyal fans of the league, shared the Best Bida Fan Award.
‘Sharon’ began supporting the PBA in the early 90s as an avid supporter of the great Allan Caidic, and later on, of Vergel Meneses and Jun Limpot.
The self-proclaimed ‘PBA Mega-fan’ took to social media to express his gratitude to the players – past and present – and teams which appreciate the support he’s been extending to them for almost three decades now.
“Big thank you so much PBA and thank you commissioner Willie Marcial for this award on my 29th year as a PBA fan,” he said.
“I dedicate this award to Mr. Allan Caidic, Mr Vergel Meneses, Mr. Zandro Limpot, Mr. Chris Tiu, idol Doug Kramer, idol Ed Daquioag, and boss Tony Go.”
Villanueva is one of the oldest PBA fans at 80 years old. She has been religiously watching the games since 1980 as a No. 1 supporter of basketball’s ‘Living Legend’ Robert Jaworski Sr.
As gratitude for their loyalty to the league, Marcial has allotted them lifetime privilege of two tickets each every game day in venues around Metro Manila.