VIRGILIO ‘Baby’ Dalupan, perhaps the greatest basketball coach in the Philippines, has passed away. He was 92.
Tributes poured in following the news of the passing of Dalupan on Wednesday.
Dalupan guided Crispa to a PBA grand slam in 1976 and also coached the University of the East Red Warriors to seven straight UAAP titles from 1965 to 1971 - a record unmatched to this day.
Persons close to him confirmed the news, with Ricardo Brown, Dalupan’s former player with Great Taste paying tribute to his coach on his Facebook account.
“A true, iconic, Philippine basketball legend like no other left us all last evening,” wrote Brown.
Dalupan left an indelible mark on Philippine basketball that perhaps no one would ever match.
He won 15 PBA championships, including the first-ever grand slam with the Crispa Redmanizers while also steering Great Taste and Purefoods to titles.
The record since has been surpassed by current Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, but Dalupan’s accomplishments went far beyond the PBA, as his title count has unofficially reached a total of 52 championships.
Before his time in the PBA, ‘The Maestro’ led a dynasty, winning seven consecutive titles with Red Warriors squads led by Robert Jaworski. Only Ateneo’s five-peat in the 2000s came close to Dalupan’s UE teams.
Following his stint with UE, Dalupan also coached Ateneo where he brought the Blue Eagles to back-to-back titles from 1975 to 1976 when the school was in the NCAA.
Dalupan also took Crispa to several Micaa and national open championships before the Redmanizers joined the PBA where he had memorable battles with the team’s chief rival Toyota.
Dalupan attended a 2003 Crispa and Toyota reunion game organized by the PBA at the Araneta Coliseum.
Advanced age caught up with Dalupan and public appearances have been few since that reunion game after he lost his sight. On his 92nd birthday last year, hundreds of former players, coaches, rivals, and friends were present to see Dalupan after the launch of his book.
“I just want to thank all of my players and colleagues,” said Dalupan in his brief message to the guests in the affair.