HE has held the nation's attention while competing in the Olympics, fought in the world championships, and won gold in the Asian Games.
Yet Mansueto 'Onyok' Velasco swore the tension he felt while watching his son play for the San Sebastian Staglets in the Final Four of the NCAA juniors basketball tournament was nothing he had felt before.
“Nakakakaba,” admitted Onyok, one of only two Filipino athletes to win a silver medal in the Olympics.
The doting father was at ringside of the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to witness his only son and namesake, Mansueto Jr, nail the game-winning three-pointer in the Staglets’ 58-55 win over CSB-La Salle Greenhills in their Final Four match-up.
With the game tied at 55-all, the young Velasco received an inbound pass from teammate Ryan Costelo before letting loose the dagger trey off the glass for the win and a berth in the best-of-three title series opposite three-time defending champion San Beda.
The San Sebastian guard, at 5-7 a couple of inches taller than his dad, finished with 12 points, but his game-winning three-pointer was only the second he made in 14 attempts from downtown.
Onyok admitted being overwhelmed by pride when he witnessed his son turn hero for the Staglets.
“Nakakagulat,” he said in a talk with Spin.ph at ringside.
“Mas shooter kasi siya kaysa sa akin,” Onyok added with a laugh.
The boxing great is a basketball enthusiast himself, and he often joins a team of movie stars who plays in various exhibition games for charity.
Onyok said his love for basketball has rubbed off on his son, but he admits Mansueto Jr is the better player between the two of them.
“Siyempre, sa boksing mas magaling ako. Sa basketball, siya naman,” said the 38-year-old Onyok, who also won a gold medal in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan.
The young Velasco, the second in a brood of four - three of them are girls - once found boxing to his liking, but eventually shifted to basketball when he grew up.
“Nung bata siya, boxer talaga siya, pero nung kinalakihan niya na, basketball na siya. Ayaw na sa boksing,” said the 1996 Atlanta Olympic silver medalist.
Although the San Sebastian guard has fully focused on basketball, Onyok said he’ll personally train his son if and when he rediscovers his interest in the sweet science.
“Kung mag-boksing siya ulit, ako na ang magtuturo sa kanya,” stressed the part-time actor and comedian.
But whatever his son pursues, Onyok said he’ll be supporting him all the way. The young Velasco is in his final season with the Staglets.
“Kung ano gusto niya, suporta lang ako,” said Onyok, vowing to be there at ringside again when the Staglets play the Red Cubs in the finals.