THE official draw of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship on Thursday is set to turn into a trip down memory lane as members of the Philippine team that won the 1973 edition of the meet are going to be given special tribute by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel.
SBP executive secretary Sonny Barrios disclosed that among those confirmed to grace the occasion are players Manny Paner, Yoyong Martirez, Jimmy Mariano, and four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez.
Accompanying them are team manager Dante Silverio, trainer Juan Cutillas, and assistant coach and basketball great Caloy Loyzaga.
Unfortunately, Robert Jaworski Sr., easily the biggest star to emerge out of the victorious team that swept the tournament when it was still known as Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC), won’t be able to make it.
“Sonny is currently abroad, but we’ve sent out an invitation to him. Another one who’s out of the country is Bogs Adornado, so he won’t be able to make it too,” Barrios said.
Three other members of the team - Francis Arnaiz, Abet Guidaben, and Joy Cleofas - are now based abroad, while Tembong Melencio, Dave Regullano, Big Boy Reynoso, coach Tito Eduque, and deputy Nilo Verona have all passed away.
Barrios said plaques of appreciation from the SBP will be given to team members just before the drawing of lots.
Fiba-Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian of Lebanon will preside over the affair, along with SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan.
Khajirian arrived in the country on Tuesday night and was accompanied by Barriors Wednesday as he made another ocular inspection of the Mall of Asia Arena, site of the August 1-11 qualifier to the Fiba-World Basketball Championship set next year in Spain.