How much does the PBA owe Mr. Bobong?
There’s one happily intriguing detail that has been spliced into the achievements of the great innovator Carlos “Bobong” Velez.
“Si Mr. Bobong, he converted Joe Cantada from a boxer to a basketball player.”
That info was contributed by an aspirant communicator, who would later admit he was rescued by Velez from the wild side streets of Mandaluyong City and weaned into a successful broadcaster.
This is not to say Velez had turned Cantada into a success story.
Cantada, for the record, was already the broadcast legend Smokin’ Joe before he was made to add basketball to his list of specialties which, as everybody knows, had boxing as top dish.
The addition of Cantada to the PBA broadcast panel that worked games of the PBA during the peak of the local pro league was every inch a master stroke.
It won’t be an exaggeration to state Cantada had helped revolutionize basketball broadcasting in the country with his witty, colorful, booming accounts that definitely pushed basketball popularity to a delectable and addictive level.
“The highlight of Mr. Bobong’s career was setting a high standard for the PBA television coverage,” said the obscure aspirant who was helped greatly by Velez.
Anyway, regarding Velez, the shy and retiring fellow passed away peacefully in Dumaguete City on June 3 at age 72. He was cremated and is scheduled to be interred on June 16.
Says columnist Al. S Mendoza: “It was Bobong who revolutionized the radio-TV coverage of the PBA with his hands-on style and innovative approach that defied convention.”
Al says Velez was reluctant but later willingly agreed to turn PBA radio lingo from English to Tagalog, “on the condition that you join Vintage as radio analyst.”
Mendoza would be in the PBA radio panel from 1987 to 2014. Among his broadcast partners was the famous Sev Sarmenta, Inquirer sports columnist.
Velez played high school basketball for La Salle and later joined the Ateneo football team in the UAAP. He also became a member of the Meralco football team.
“Bobong was our coach in the Vintage TV and radio panels; he could break down games just incisively as our analyst,” says Sarmenta. “He was our most diligent listener and hardest critic.”
Thank you very much Mr. Bobong, we all owe you much.
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