MORE than four decades following its historic unbeaten run in the 1973 FIBA-Asia Championship, the Philippine men’s basketball team gets the recognition it deservedly due.
The team bannered by living legends Robert Jaworski Sr. and Ramon Fernandez is set to be conferred with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) when it holds its Annual Awards Night presented by MILO next month.
Coached by the late Valentin ‘Tito’ Eduque, the team was the last all ‘pure’ Filipino squad to rule the biennial meet following its perfect 10-0 romp of the meet the country hosted from December1-15.
The Filipinos won the title by blasting Shin Dong-pa and Korea in the final game, 90-78, to earn a berth in the 1974 FIBA World Cup in Puerto Rico.
Other members of the team include William ‘Bogs’ Adornado, Abet Guidaben, Jimmy Mariano, Francis Arnaiz, Yoyong Martirez, Manny Paner, Joy Cleofas, Big Boy Reynoso, Rogelio ‘Tembong’ Melencio, and Dave Regullano.
The 1973 team would later serve as model of Gilas Pilipinas which went on to clinch a slot in last year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain following its runner-up finish to when the Fiba-Asia meet returned to the country two years ago.
“Before Gilas, there’s the 1973 Philippine men’s team which did us all proud by winning the FIBA-Asia Championship right in front of basketball-loving Filipino fans. It is only fitting then for the entire team to be recognized by the PSA as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award during its Annual Awards Night,” said PSA president Jun Lomibao of the Business Mirror.
The cage team is the latest to be bestowed of the award by the country’s oldest media organization.
Last year honored with the prestigious award during the annual rite which has the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Globalport, and Rain or Shine as partners, were legendary basketball player Carlos ‘Caloy’ Loyzaga, former International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the country Francisco ‘Frank’ Elizalde, and one-time FIBA Asia secretary-general Mauricio ‘Moying’ Martelino.
Expected to share the limelight with the 1973 PH men’s team is the recipient of the Athlete of the Year trophy being contested by three sportsmen from different disciplines.
The short list of candidates for the award include Daniel Caluag of cycling, Donnie Nietes of professional boxing, and Gabriel Moreno of archery.
Caluag won for the Philippines its only gold medal in BMX of cycling in the Incheon 17th Asian Games last October, Nietes surpassed the record set by the late Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde as the longest reigning Filipino world champion, while Moreno won gold in the mixed team event of archery in the Youth Olympic Games in partnership with China’s Li Jiaman.
Major awardees and citations will also be given out to athletes and organizations which did the country proud in the year just passed.
Now on its 66th year, the PSA will also hand out the President’s Award as well as the Executive of the Year, National Sports Association of the Year, the Tony Siddayao Awards for outstanding athletes aged 17 or younger, Lifetime Achievement Award, Sports Patron of the Year, Posthumous, and the Milo Outstanding Athletes (boys and girls).