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    JERSEY STORY: Birthday-boy Robert Jaworski on iconic No. 7 jersey: 'It landed on my lap and I took care of it'

    Mar 8, 2015

    THEY'RE more than mere numbers, and there's more to them than meets the eye.

    From important dates in their lives to lucky numbers to mere coincidence, there's usually a compelling story behind the numbers your favorite players wear on their backs.

    And more often that not, these stories will either surprise you or make you feel closer to your cage idols.

    Here's No. 8 of our Jersey Story series as we pay tribute to perhaps the most iconic jersey number of all on the legendary owner's 69th birthday:

    NO. 7 will always be associated with the ‘Living Legend’ Robert Jaworski, Sr. - the two inevitably tied to each other like bread and butter, Batman and Robin, bat and ball.

    The iconic number and the man who made it famous are always mentioned in the same breath by everyone from noontime TV hosts, kids playing in sandlot courts and by the 'bolero' in a bingo game.

    But perhaps only a few know that the former Ginebra playing-coach wore a different number during his time as the 'King Warrior' of the University of the East in the college leagues.

    Jaworski carried No. 5 on his jersey as he played for the UE Red Warriors team that won an unprecedented seven straight UAAP men’s basketball championships from 1965 to 1972.

    It was only when he made the jump to the defunct Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) with Meralco that the Big J began to wear the number which later became as iconic as he is.

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    “It landed on my lap and I took care of it in all aspects and I continue to love it,” Jaworski related to a few days before he turns 69.

    The cage great, though, declined to elaborate what prompted the change in jersey number.

    But what is clear is the fact generations have passed and yet, players from different leagues - from the smallest inter-color tournaments all the way to the PBA, still adopt the No. 7 jersey to pay homage to Jaworski.  

    Among the many who dared to emulate Jaworski by carrying his jersey number is Alaska star forward Calvin Abueva, who never hides the fact that he fell in love with the number because Jaworski was his idol.

    ‘The Beast,' in fact, wore No. 7 while playing for San Sebastian in the NCAA, but shifted to No. 8 with the Aces since the jersey number already belonged to big man Sonny Thoss.

    New Ateneo recruit CJ Perez has since inherited Abueva’s No. 7 during his time with the Stags.

    “Ang sarap naman,” said Jaworski, when told he was mostly the reason why players usually choose No. 7 for their jersey numbers.

    “I hope that they value the little things that I did,” added the former playing-coach responsible for making Ginebra the most popular ballclub in the pro league.

    Even at the age of 68, the former Senator admitted he’s still learning and wants younger players to do the same.

    “I tell you, up to now I’m still learning,” he said. “That’s why as I said, if you’re a neophyte in this industry, you aspire for excellence because that’s how it is and that’s the only way to move forward and achieve greatness.”

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    When asked who among the players who also carried No. 7 wore it best, the Big J refused to single out anyone.

    “There a good number of them,” he just said smiling.

    “Basta ang akin lang eh they exude the right attitude and the right decorum on the court and off the court particularly their relationship with the fans,” he concluded.

    Ironically, Ginebra retired his jersey number on the seventh day of the seventh month of 2012.

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