YENG Guiao had a huge grin on his face when asked what he recalls most about former player Joey Loyzaga during their time together with Swift Mighty Meaties in the early 90s.
Two things stood out in his memory – Loyzaga’s weight and his penchant for chicharon.
Known for his stocky built – obviously a trademark of the Loyzagas, Joey, on Guiao's instructions, was made to undergo a weight training program after the RFM franchise acquired him following a noteworthy stint with Robert Jaworski and Ginebra.
“We tried to get him as fit as possible, but we know he’s really on the heavy side and masarap siyang kumain,” the Team Pilipinas coach looked back.
It didn’t help that Loyzaga, the younger of the two playing sons of the late legend Caloy Loyzaga, was very fond of eating chicharon, which he usually shares with his teammates and coaches during practices - and with media during games.
“Meron kaming rasyon ng chicharon every practice. He was trying to bribe his way with chicharon so that hindi kami masyadong maging strict sa kanya,” Guiao fondly remembers.
All of these things came out after Guiao briefly met with his former player when Loyzaga dropped by the Team Pilipinas practice at the Meralco gym to say hi to his old coach.
The Sydney-based Loyzaga, now 57, is currently on a vacation to attend the 40th anniversary celebration of his 1979 varsity batchmates at San Beda.
He tried to meet up with Guiao during Sunday’s PBA Philippine Cup doubleheader, but arrived at the Smart Araneta Coliseum shortly after NLEX’s game against Columbian Dyip.
Loyzaga instead decided to see his former coach at the Team Pilipinas practice.
“I just asked about his (Guiao) family and well-being. And also just wished him well with the national team and the PBA,” said Loyzaga of the short talk he had with the former Pampanga vice-governor and congressman.
“Small talk lang naman. And gusto niya raw makita yung mga bata (national players) na maglaro,” said Guiao.
But apart from the chicharon and the weight gain, Guiao did have a lot of nice words to say about Loyzaga, who describes as a ‘fun guy.’
“His character is really somebody who’s outgoing, somebody who’s friends with everyone,” said the NLEX coach.
And yes, Joey was a very good player, he added.
“Makikita mo akala mo mabagal siya, akala mo mahina yung stamina niya, but he lasted the games and he was strong, and he was quick for his size,” Guiao said. “When he got open in the three-point shot, he made his shots, he made some big shots for us when he was playing.”
The national mentor also noted how Loyzaga somewhat gave the RFM franchise a share of his followers, having been a beloved member of Ginebra.
“Of course alam natin na galing siya sa Ginebra noon so that time, he was well-loved, he still had a lot of fans, nadala niya sa amin yung following niyang yun,” Guiao said.
Unfortunately, the two didn’t win a championship together. The farthest they got was a runner-up finish in Sarsi’s first-ever Finals appearance during the 1991 All-Filipino conference against Purefoods.