HANDS down, 2021 was a banner year for Philippine sports. But it has its downside, too.
The season saw the sporting community mourn the loss of some of its beloved athletes, respected sports leaders and officials at a time when the country and the entire world struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Filipinos celebrate the unprecedented triumphs of our athletes, they also grieved the passing of people who paved the way for where Philippine sports currently stands now.
SPIN.ph remember those great sportsmen who joined the Great beyond in the year about to end
Team captain of the 1987 Ateneo team that won its first ever UAAP men’s basketball title under coach Cris Calilan. He also skippered the 1991 Philippine men’s team that won the gold during the Southeast Asian Games here. Enshrined in the Ateneo Hall of Fame, he was a first-round pick of Ginebra in the 1992 PBA draft who later suited up for Purefoods, and then played in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) before retiring in 1999.
He was considered one of the brains behind the founding of Ronda Pilipinas and a board member of the Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines (PhilCycling). Chulani likewise once served as team manager of the Pasig Pirates in the MBA.
Played three seasons in the PBA with U-Text under former Boston Celtics stalwart Glenn McDonald and Manhattan with the late great coaches Nic Jorge and Lauro Mumar. He suited up for University of the Philippines under coach Joe Lipa, and counted on Yeng Guiao and Ricky Dandan as among his teammates.
JACINTO CAYCO, 96
A product of University of Santo Tomas, he represented the country in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke event of the 1948 London Olympics. He won two golds in the 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi and later on, a silver medal as part of the 1958 Asiad delegation in Tokyo, Japan. He was inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
MARY CHRISTINE VILLARETE, 64
Carried the country’s colors in two Asian Games, and was once the Philippine record holder in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, respectively.
Known more as a public figure from a powerful political clan from the South, the three-term senator was also a popular sports buff who owned the basketball team John O that competed in several minor and corporate tournaments in the 90s, before eventually taking its act in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL) in the early 2000s.
TED MAGNO, 71
Longtime college coach who once worked as the Director for Sports Development of AMA Computer University. He was also the man behind the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), and regularly organizes basketball camps and clinics for individual group or teams.
Former Crispa player in the defunct Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA), who also played for YCO and U-Text, and husband of the late sportswriter and columnist Beth Celis. He was credited for discovering and guiding the young career of the great Avelino ‘Samboy’ Lim.
JOSE ‘DODONG’GULLAS, 87
(Basketball player, coach, and school official)
Former University of Visayas player and coach, and later team manager, who spearheaded Cebu’s premiere inter-school athletic league, which later evolved to Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI).
Played for the San Sebastian Stags in the mid-2000s and the Harbour Centre-Taguig in the inaugural season of Liga Pilipinas.
JOSELITO ‘JOEY’ OCAMPO, 68
A 6-foot-1 guard out of PSBA who played under the late former national coach Nic Jorge. He saw action for two years in the PBA, playing for Tefilin.
Member of the original Noritake (later Mariwasa) team that was among the founding franchises of Asia’s play-for-pay league in 1975. The player who became known as Luke Dator, played for Southwestern University in college.
(Fil-Am basketball player)
Suited up for Magnolia in the PBL in the 90s where he won a championship during the 1994 Invitational Cup and had the likes of Jeff Cariaso and Dennis Espino for teammates. He was also part of the 1992 Atlanta PVC Pipes team that played as guest team in the 1992 PBL Invitational Cup.
A freelance broadcaster, he was best known for his sharp boxing insights especially during the fighst of ring legend Manny Pacquiao. He also wrote columns for some of the country’s top newspapers and websites, and once served as head coach of the Pony League national team Habagat, baseball being his other passion outside of boxing.
(Champion team and horse owner)
Amiable team owner of PBL champion team Dr. J Alcohol and multi-titled winning horse Batangas Entry.
Gold medal winner in the 2005 Southeast AsIan Games and bronze medalist in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
Former national fencer who served as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and head of the Philippine Fencing Association. He was also former prexy of the Fencing Confederation of Asia and commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
A lawyer, he was former chairman of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) and briefly served as commissioner of the PSC. He also played the role of team manager of Toyota in the PBA.
Longtime team manager of Barangay Ginebra and president of La Tondena Inc. The amiable but straightforward sports executive was also former chairman of the PBA board.
One of the last few links to the fabled Crispa Redmanizers franchise where he was former team manager and athletic director. Fondly called ‘Mang Tony,’ he was father of former PBA and Gilas Pilipinas coach Jong Uichico.
Served as national boxing coach from 1986 to 2004, a stretch that saw Filipino pugs win a silver and a pair of bronze medals in the Olympics courtesy of Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Games, and Roel Velasco and Leopoldo Serrantes in the 1992 (Barcelona) and 1988 (Seoul) Summer Games, respectively.
LORETA ‘LORI’ MENDOZA, 55
Coach of the Philippine judo team and former gold medal winner in the 1993 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
OSKIE SANTELICES, 59
(Table tennis coach)
A former national table tennis player and coach, he was a one time secretary general of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines. Santelices was the man behind the success of the women’s table tennis team of the University of the Philippines, where he served as chairman of the College of Human Kinetics Department of Sports Science and headed the school’s Varsity Athletics Admission System.
The long-time president of the Philippine Squash Academy (formerly Squash Rackets Association of the Philippines). The soft-spoken sports official was also former secretary-general of the Philippine Olympic Commtteie (POC).
Former UAAP Season 78 juniors MVP with Far Eastern University and part of the Philippine U-19 unit that saw action in the 2018 AFF U-19 Championship in Indonesia.
HEINRICH ABAD, 29
The former Dota 2 player once considered the best in the country and the Southeast Asian region. A native of Cebu, he used ‘Heinrich’ as in-game name and previously topped the solo ranked matchmaking rating (MMR) leaderboards of Southeast Asia.
CILDO EVASCO, 50
A three-star international referee and judge who worked with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP).
HAYDEE COLOSO-ESPINO, 83
One of the country’s most bemedalled swimmers who won a combined three golds in the 1954 (Manila) and 1958 (Tokyo) Asian Games. She also represented the country in the 1960 Rome Olympics. An educator, the native of Duenas, Iloilo was inducted as the first Filipina swimmer in the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
Served as secretary general of the Philippine Bowling Congress (PBC), and later the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP). Martelino was also secretary-general of the Asian Basketball Confederation, now known as FIBA-Asia. Formerly was chairman of the Sports Vision Management Group, which spearheaded the Shakey's V League, which later became the Premier Volleyball League.
Former team captain of the La Salle team that won back-to-back UAAP men’s basketball championship in 1989 and 1990. Had a brief coaching stint as deputy mentor of the St. Benilde Blazers.
ANASTACIO FRANCISCO, 69
Considered one of the best pitchers the country ever produced. A member of the Philippine Blu Boys that won golds in the Southeast Asian Games during the late 70s and 80s. Named Mr. Softball in 1975, the native of Mampang, Zamboanga City was the pitching coach of the Philippine team than bagged the gold in the 2005 SEA Games in Manila.
BERTY GUANZON, 76
Legendary coach of the Philippine Air Force and the women’s national team.
(Table tennis player)
Winner of a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Paralympics - only the second Filipino medalist in the quadrennial meet for specially-abled athletes after powerlifter Adeline Dumapong. The proud daughter of Albay also won a pair of silver and bronze medals in three Asian Games Paralympic stint, and a seven-time gold medal winner in the ASEAN Para Games.
A bemedalled amateur boxer who ended the country’s 24-year Olympic medal drought by bagging the bronze in the men’s light-flyweight category of the 1988 Seoul Games. Serrantes was also a double gold medal winner in the SEA Games.
JEROME YENSON, 24
Key member of the Philippine baseball team that captured the gold in the 2019 SEA Games. A product of Adamson, he was named Finals MVP and Best Pitcher when he steered the school to the UAAP baseball crown in 2018, ending its eight-year title drought.
TOMMY ONG, 65
Former PBL Deputy Commissioner under the time of Chino Trinidad.
DITHER TABLAN, 23
Earned legend status at University of Santo Tomas for emerging as a two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player in judo, where he led the Golden Judokas to a rare four-feat championship in the men’s division. A Physical Education degree holder major in Sports and Wellness Management, he likewise represented the country in the SEA Games and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
AMMAN JALMAANI, 72
The swimming great from Jolo represented the country in three straight Olympics – 1964 (Tokyo), 1968 (Mexico), and 1972 (Munich). He was part of the national swimming team to the 1966 and 1970 Bangkok Asian Games as well as the 1974 Asiad in Tehran, where he won a total of three silver and three bronze medals.
FREDDIE LAZARITO, 66
Former national men's football team coach from 1989 to 1991, and the first ever to handle the Ceres-La Salle FC team which later became known as Ceres-Negros FC. The legendary mentor was likewise responsible for the successful football program of University of St. La Salle starting in 1986.
Widely-regarded as the best high school coach in the country who instituted a solid basketball program with the San Beda juniors team that netted the school 16 juniors NCAA championships and other major national titles. Credited for honing the talent of PBA greats Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Dindo Pumaren, Gerry Esplana, LA Tenorio, RenRen Ritualo, JVee Casio, Baser Amer, among others, he also coached the Philippine Youth team in 1989. He once served as UAAP commissioner.
Former coach of the University of the East Red Warriors, who also handled the Boracay Rum/Tanduay franchise in the PBA D-League.
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