Gloom descends on All-Stars as former UP Maroons coach turned PBA official Ramil Cruz dies in Palawan
Ramil Cruz, pictured helping out in the clinic held by PBA coaches for Palawan youngsters, was a member of the UP Maroons team that won the school's only UAAP championship. He was the PBA's technical director at the time of his death. Jerome Ascano

PUERTO PRINCESA - Gloom descended on the PBA All-Star Weekend when technical supervisor and former University of the Philippines Maroons hero Ramil Cruz was discovered dead in his room on Sunday morning at the Aziza Hotel.

Cruz, a teammate or Ronnie Magsanoc, Benjie Paras and Eric Altamirano in the only UP Maroons team to win a UAAP championship in 1986, was 48 but the cause of death has yet to be ascertained.

Initial diagnosis of the emergency team that responded to the call said Cruz may have died of a heart attack.

PBA media bureau chief Willy Marcial said Cruz was already complaining of gas pain late Saturday night. 

"Sinabi ko na dalhin namin siya sa ospital pero ayaw niya. Sabi niya parang okay lang daw siya after siyang bigyan ng gamot," Marcial said.

Cruz was seen walking along the pool side of the hotel on Saturday night before going up to his room. That was the last time he was seen alive.

[See Joe Lipa says UP Maroons couldn't have won 1986 title without Ramil Cruz's heroics]

Former UP coach Joe Lipa, who was also in Palawan, said he was originally invited by Cruz to stay in his room when the many-time national coach arrived on Wednesday.

"I told Ramil a few minutes later that they (organizers from Palawan) have a room for me," he said. "Kung nandun lang ako, I could have saved him."

Cruz has returned as the league's technical supervisor recently after a short stint as acting coach of the UP Maroons following the departure of Rey Madrid. He was to be promoted to technical director next season.

He is survived by his wife Monet and his four kids.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava