DANNY Francisco was a UAAP champion with Ateneo, the starting center of the Philippine youth team where a future PBA star by the name of Zandro 'Jun' Limpot was his back-up, and hailed as the 'second coming' of the great Mon Fernandez when he was forced to retire at the age of 19 due to a heart ailment.
He can certainly relate to the death of Carl Jimwell 'CJ' Servillon.
Francisco spoke about the issue on Wednesday, saying the death of Jose Rizal University high school player once again brought to the fore the need to have emergency response teams in all sporting events as well as stringent pre-tournament check-ups on an athlete’s overall health.
They Said It!
“Greatest player never to go to the PBA. Was supposed to be the next Ramon Fernandez." Aldo Receno Yuson
The former Ateneo star said all leagues, players, and coaches should all do their part to make sure that incidents like the one that befell Servillon would never happen again.
“Accidents and injuries are unavoidable especially in sports. We can minimize this by being well-equipped,” said Francisco in an interview with Spin.ph.
“But at the same time, being well-equipped is not the answer because you may be well-equipped but if you don’t know the physical make-up of the athlete, we have to understand that first and do a really thorough check to be able to determine whether the athlete is fit to play,” he added.
Francisco of course, knows where he is coming from as he gave up a blossoming basketball career in the late 1980s due to a health issue. A routine medical check-up before the 1989 season of the UAAP showed he had a heart problem - a diagnosis that cut short a blossoming career but in all likelihood saved his life.
“My diagnosis came accidentally,” said Francisco. “There was a medical check-up before the basketball season. Because of this medical test, they heard a murmur - a heart murmur. The doctors decided to pursue more tests on me and found out that I had an aneurysm in the aorta.
“A decision has to be made because the doctors say I can’t play because of the risk that the aneurysm might burst and I would suffer something very unfortunate. Because of that I had to stop playing. That decision was made because of the medical check-up findings,” said Francisco.
The decision to quit was in no way easy, Francisco said, but accepted that he had no choice.
“The difficulty there was that I was playing well for my team and I was in the national team,” said Francisco, the key figure in Ateneo’s first ever UAAP men’s basketball championship win over longtime rival De La Salle in 1988.
“I didn’t have any choice. That is something the doctors have to make. Of course, if I had a choice, I would continue playing. But I really had to stop immediately,” said Francisco.
Now an executive of Cebuana Lhuillier, Francisco said he us saddened by the loss of Servillon, who collapsed in a preseason game on Friday and died two days later.
“I also have a son myself so I would like to express my condolences to the Servillon family,” Francisco said.
Servillon's death has understandably raised red flags, more so after the late player's grandfather claimed negligence on the part of tournament organizers, saying CJ was brought to the hospital 30 minutes after he collapsed.
Officials of Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup tournament had since denied there was neglect on their end.
His father, Jun, also confirmed to Spin.ph that the younger Servillon had already collapsed in a basketball game near their home in Mandaluyong City weeks before his death.
Despite the incident, he was cleared to play again by doctors.