Letran and MumarBy Manolo R. Iñigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LETRAN, host of this year’s 88th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the most popular and glamorous basketball league in the country in the 1950s, aims to recapture the old NCAA glory days in tandem with a new sports television channel.
The NCAA games get going in June.
Rev. Fr. Tamerlane Lana, OP, and head of this year’s NCAA policy board, met with TV5 president-CEO Ray Espinosa and executive vice president Bobby Barreiro in a recent meeting at the St. Thomas Building of Letran College.
Fans will see the NCAA games during weekends, especially Saturdays, on the same schedule that rival Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines will be holding its matches.
However, I fear that this year’s edition of the NCAA cage wars will again pale in comparison to the golden years, when crowd drawers Ateneo and La Salle were still in the league.
With Letran as host, oldtimers can’t help but recall the heart-rending story of the late Lauro Mumar.
More populary known as “The Fox” and “El Presidente” because of his cunning and heady play, Mumar was a controversial figure who was linked to a game-fixing scandal while playing for Letran in 1950. He was also banned for life by officials of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (forerunner of the Philippine Olympic Committee) “for failing to honor an international commitment” and for conduct unbecoming of an athlete of national stature” after he missed the flight to Rio de Janeiro, where the Philippines was scheduled to play in the World Basketball Championship in 1954. (Mumar said he had no money for the trip and couldn’t leave his cash-strapped family. Officials later raised funds for Mumar’s family and flew him to Brazil. He eventually skippered the national five to an unprecedented third-place finish.—Ed)
Mumar led Letran’s famous Murder Inc. team to the 1950 NCAA championship, but the victory was tainted by a game-fixing scandal. Letran could have won the NCAA title by a sweep, but it was beaten by underdog San Beda in Game 10. Suspected of throwing the game by betting for San Beda, Mumar was subsequently dropped from the Letran roster.
But there was no single complaint filed against him in any court of law to prove that he was guilty of any wrongdoing.
Born to a poor family in Talibon, Bohol, Mumar honed his skills playing three-on-three sandlot basketball. He made his cage debut for Cebu’s San Carlos College which won the first postwar National Intercollegiate championship in Manila in 1946. Then in 1948, 1949 and 1950, Mumar spearheaded Manila Ports Terminal in the defunct Micaa (Manila Industrial-Commercial Athletic Association) league.
Mumar’s first international stint was the 1948 London Olympic Games under renowned coach Dionsio “Chito” Calvo where the Philippines placed 12th. Upon his return to Manila, Mumar enrolled at Letran. He also saw action for the national team that won the Asian Games gold medal in 1951 in New Delhi and in 1954 in Manila. He later became coach of the national team.
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