THE Philippine table tennis community is in a state of mourning following the death of former national player and coach Oscar ‘Oskie’ Santelices.
Outpouring of condolences and support to the family of the deceased flooded the Facebook account of Santelices, who passed away due to COVID-19.
He was 59.
A one-time national athlete, Santelices served as national coach in the late 90s until 2004 when he became secretary general of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (TATAP).
Under his watch, the names Ernesto Ebuen, Joseph Cruz, Richard Gonzales, among others, became byword in Philippine table tennis history.
It was with University of the Philippines where Santelices would further cement his legacy as one of the top coaches of the sport after leading the women’s team to several UAAP championships.
The most memorable of course, came in Season 76 when the Lady Maroons stunned defending champion La Salle in the finals when they overcame a grueling thrice-to-beat disadvantage and win the title behind season MVP Joma Sibal and Season 74 counterpart Bea Magpantay. La Salle was then bannered by Ian Lariba, who would go on to play in the Olympics. She passed away in 2018.
Also an educator, Santelices was also chairman of the UP College of Human Kinetics Department of Sports Science and headed the school’s Varsity Athletics Admission System.
Santelices once hosted a radio sports program titled ‘Sports And Science’ over DZSR Sports Radio (now Radyo Pilipinas 2) along with station manager Cecille Quimlat.
In one of his last few posts in his Facebook account, the veteran coach was hoping for both the Tokyo Olympics and Para Games to push thru, citing the newly constructed Yoyogi Olympic Stadium as one of the best indoor venues in Tokyo.
“Brings back memories of the 1983 World Table Tennis Championships and my early years in Japan,” Santelices recalled.
Rest in Christ’s love, coach.