HOLLYWOOD – Even a gunslinger who used to go by the name ‘Pistolero’ fades away.
And mockingly it’s his feet, and not those deadly-shooting hands of his, that kept former PBA player Jose Francisco away from the game he loves most for sometimes now.
“Wala na masakit na ang paa ko,” said Francisco in between laughs.
Far different from most pro athletes who doesn’t know when is the time to quit, reality quickly set upon Francisco like a thunderbolt 15 years ago shortly upon his stint with the Negros Slashers in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).
He knew right away it was the beginning of the end to a career that had its roots with the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, and eventually reached its pinnacle when he made it all the way to Asia’s pioneering pro league.
“Wala na rin naman kasi (lalaruan) sa Pilipinas kaya nag-decide na kami (family) na pumunta dito,” said Francisco, 46, and now based here in Los Angeles. “Kaya after basketball dito na. Naisip din namin magandang mag-establish ng pamilya dito.”
The former Sta. Lucia wingman said he has two kids – both boys – and one of them is about to graduate now.
“Magdo-doctor siguro,” said Francisco, who obviously gain weight in his long stay here.
Although both his sons also play the game, none of them pursued a career similar to their father.
“Sayang kasi ang mga utak,” he proudly added.
Francisco had the chance to hook up with contemporaries Kenneth Duremdes and Zaldy Realubit this week as the three of them – along with another ex-pro player in Emerson Oreta – will watch Manny Pacquiao’s April 9 fight against Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
All of them had one time or the other, played pick up games against Pacquiao, currently the playing-coach of Mahindra in the PBA.
Francisco said he first met the boxing superstar in 2008 during his second fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Inimbitahan niya na ako na sumama sa kanya after we first met. Kaya pag may time and andito siya (Paquiao) sa US, pinupuntahan ko siya,” said the 6-foot-1 Francisco, who played in the PBA from 1995 to 2000 and suited up for Sta. Lucia and Mobilne (now Tropang TNT).
Now working at Lassens Natural Foods and Vitamins, Francisco disclosed it’s been a while since he last went home to the Philippines.
It’s also been a while since he likewise watched a PBA game, although ‘Pistolero’ said he reads news and articles about the players and the league from time to time.
“Alam mo naman dito sa Amerika, sa trabaho lang ubos na yung time mo,” said Francisco, who had a career average of 5.6 points in 227 games.
That however won’t mean he’ll not be around for Pacquiao’s supposed to be ‘farewell fight.’
“Doon hindi tayo mawawala,” Francisco assured.