LAS VEGAS – Bernie Fabiosa was a star in his own right while at the prime of his career as the starting point guard of the fabled Crispa Redmanizers during the early days of the PBA.
But as a first timer in the ever-growing entourage of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao as it headed off from Los Angeles to this glitzy US city for Saturday’s welterweight fight against Tim Bradley, he himself was left in awe by the stature attained by the celebrated Filipino southpaw.
“Ganito pala dito,” he said while partaking the catered dinner served in Pacquiao’s 60th floor suite at the posh Mandalay Bay Delano.
Now 61 and based in California, Fabiosa said he has long been extended invitations by people close to Pacquiao to watch him live everytime he fights here as early as the boxer’s rivalry with Eric Morales.
His hectic work schedule however, always gets in the way, saying, ‘Alam mo naman dito as Amerika kailangan mag-trabaho ka talaga.”
But a good opportunity came for him as Pacquiao battles Bradley for the third time this weekend at the MGM Grand.
The 5-foot-9 playmaker from Bohol was lucky enough to have free time to watch the fight upon the invitation of former Presto teammate Zaldy Realubit, a known constant chess playmate of the 37-year-old boxer.
“Inimbitahan ako ni Zaldy, nagkataon available naman ako,” said Fabiosa.
Fabiosa personally drove Realubit and companions Emerson Oreta, Louie Medella, and former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes in the six-hour journey from L.A to the ‘Sin City’ as part of Pacman’s convoy.
Not bad really for a man who’s into the Uber business nowadays.
“Nagda-drive ako ng Uber and pag may chance, nag-care giver naman ako,” said Fabiosa, who played in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league from 1975 to 1991 and suited up for Crispa, Shell, Presto, Purefoods, and Swift.
The starting point guard of the Redmanizers’ two glowing grand slams in 1976 and 1983, Fabiosa has been in the US since 2001 in what he termed as a new chapter in his life.
“Noong araw, tapos na ako doon. Gusto ko sariling kayod naman para maramdaman ko 'yung hirap,” stressed the University of San Jose-Recoletos alum. “Hindi katulad dati, laro ka lang, tapos meron ka ng monthly. Ito ngayon, buhay na talaga.”
One of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players and a seven-time assist leader that earned him the moniker ‘Sultan of Swipe,’ Fabiosa said he no longer plays the game and has actually lost interest watching it, be it live or on tv.
“Hindi ko rin alam kung bakit, pero hindi naman ako nagagalit sa basketball,” said Fabiosa, who averaged 8.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals in a 17-year pro career. “Pero parang tama na, tapos na ako. Nagko-concentrate ako ngayon sa future ko. Yun ang sadya ko dito.”
The third all-time steals leader in the pro league, Fabiosa didn’t hesitate to admit he has a lot of children, although it was unfortunate none of them ever got to like playing the game.
But he doesn’t regret not having someone from his family follow in his footsteps.
Perhaps it’s his way of preserving the legacy as one of the best ever pure point guards the country has ever produced.