WHEN Samboy Lim was rushed unconscious to the hospital after collapsing during a Legends game last November 28, netizens were quick to offer prayers and words of support for one of the PBA’s greatest players.
One particular gesture caught my eye - a photo posted on Facebook of three jerseys bearing the No. 9 from notable teams the ‘Skywalker’ played for during his illustrious career: the 1989 San Miguel Beermen that accomplished a rare grand slam, the Ron Jacobs-led Northern Cement team composed of future PBA stars that won several international tournaments in the 80s, and the 1986 Philippine team that brought home an Asian Games bronze medal from the Seoul Asian Games.
The photo was shared by Alvin G. Giolagon, a UST schoolmate. My interest piqued, I queried Alvin on Facebook and asked how he came about the said jerseys.
“(Samboy) played for NCC pero not sure kung nasuot nya yung particular design na 'yun. Kung sabay sila pumasok ni (Hector) Calma (from a magazine, may pic si Calma wearing same design). I assumed na meron si Samboy kaya pinagawa ko 'yun,” he answered.
After a brief exchange, I discovered that to describe the 39-year old lawyer as an avid jersey collector is an understatement. While most sports fans are content with a uniform or two to display their loyalty to their favorite teams, the collection of this Arellano Law grad, at last count, stands at a whopping 71 jerseys, each representing a specific Filipino athlete in the PBA, Gilas Pilipinas, the Azkals and the Philippine Volcanoes.
Buoyed by his passion for Pinoy hoops, Alvin said he began collecting in 2003. His first acquisition was a replica of the 2002 Busan RP team No. 14 jersey worn by Asi Taulava. He currently has 26 jerseys representing the RP/Gilas teams in his ever-growing collection.
“Before, I only wanted any RP team jerseys, whoever the player is. When I shifted to the PBA, I decided that I'll collect the Top 25 PBA Players. Kaso sa Greenhills at Divisoria, they only offer the popular ones so kung sino lang available, one jersey per team,” he told SPIN.ph.
Aside from the tiangges, Alvin looks for jerseys in uniform shops such as Allendale, a “suking sastre sa Quiapo at Kamuning” and a contact on Facebook.
“Once or twice a month, he'll offer to make a jersey for a particular PBA team. Minsan current, minsan past. Order ka lang ng size, bahala ka kung sinong player, or pwede pangalan/number mo,” he said.
To make sure that his jerseys are as accurate as possible, he conducts research by scouring through photographs on the internet and in archived magazines.
“Dati kung ano lang available sa tindahan. Tapos later on kung ano jerseys offered sa Facebook. Kahit 85 percent accurate sa patches at design okay na sa akin. May kinukuhaan akong PBA and Finals PBA patches sa Farmers. Kung walang patch, nilalagyan ko,” he explained.
As for actual game-worn jerseys, he does have one from one of the Master Game Challenge exhibition matches. “Bigay ng pamangkin kong bouncer/security guard sa Smart-Araneta. Naarbor kay Chris Tiu,” he said.
Interestingly enough, Alvin does not have jerseys from NBA teams but has examples from Asean Basketball League (ABL) champions Philippine Patriots and San Miguel Beer and the 2006 UST Tigers UAAP men’s basketball champions.
Among his latest additions are a Gilas No.13 jersey worn by point guard Paul Lee when he played as ‘Paul Dalistan’ in the recent 2014 Incheon Asian Games and Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Sorento No.17 uniform.
The collection has gotten so large that he has already given away some jerseys to make room for newer versions as well as his young son's own jerseys.
Asked which jersey he would choose if he could only keep one piece from his prized collection, he said he would choose the 90's era Gordon Gins Boars jersey of the younger half of the only father-son pair who played in the PBA, Dudut Jaworski, the son of his idol Robert Jaworski.
“Bukod sa kanya, ako lang ang nagpagawa nyan. Maganda kasi pagkakagawa. Malupit ang burda. Akalain mo 'yung mismong sastre ng Gordon’s ang gumawa,” said Alvin.
According to him, prices and quality vary depending on the source.
“Sa Greenhills at Divisoria nasa P450 ang PBA/Gilas jerseys pero 90% accurate, minsan walang PBA patch lang," he noted.
Official replicas cost from P700-800 but the designs leaves much to be desired - the faulty workmanship, no surnames and, worse, no numbers. Whereas those sold in Greenhills and Divisoria even have the corporate sponsor and uniform branding. For the same price, Alvin said his custom-made jerseys are as accurate as possible, made from quality fabric and have complete patches.
The jerseys are actually used for their designed purpose since Alvin has been playing hoops since his days at UST and Arellano Law. He occasionally plays for teams from Shangri la and the DILG where he works.
A self-described diehard hoops fan, Alvin said he roots for the UST Growling Tigers, Barangay Ginebra and the Los Angeles Lakers but would love to play with San Miguel players June Mar Fajardo, Allan Caidic and Samboy Lim.
After the PBA released its list of 40 Greatest Players, SPIN.ph asked if he would collect the additional players as well.
Noting that he already has jerseys of Marc Pingris, Jayson Castro and Mark Caguioa, he said, “It’s a hobby I guess. Completist kasi ako. Maski sa Star Wars, G.I. Joe collection ko. Kaya as long as merong pambili at merong available sa market, tuloy ang ligaya.”