Jaworski can help restore old PBA fireBy Recah Trinidad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Maybe only a handful in that great crowd at Araneta Coliseum on Sunday could recall that great battle fought with an incredible never-say-die spirit by the lead figure on the battle court.
It happened elsewhere, many years ago, at Ultra (now Philsports Arena) in Pasig. Robert Jaworski had to step out late in the first half to have his busted mouth mended in a hospital.
When Jaworski finally made it back—ugly stitches on his lips jutting—to rejoin his team in the final quarter, his teammates were fighting desperately hard to stay in battle.
Was it Añejo or already Ginebra which Jaworski resuscitated with patented team-knitting heroics to emerge triumphant from that critical battle?
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Maybe it was the Toyota Tamaraws, the University of the East Warriors, or the Philippine national team itself in a distant shore.
When Jaworski, now 66, scanned the tumultuous turnout at the Big Dome on Sunday, his brave warrior’s heart melted. Tears welled in his eyes and he was overheard as complaining (in jest) that his macho image had been put to severe test.
“It is your values that the players we have today and tomorrow will have to live up to,” commented PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
The son of great commissioner Rudy Salud, who himself saw the Jaworski hardcourt priesthood to its full fruition, said Jaworski’s integrity and nobility were the foundations that made the PBA.
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The event was officially listed as the retirement of Jaworski’s legendary No. 7 jersey.
It was in truth a canonization.
“In the first place, there’s no way they can retire him,” advised Francis Arnaiz from California, where Jaworki’s able and most trusted backcourt partner has settled down.
There’s no end to the Jaworski greatness, Arnaiz said. “By his example, he taught us what it really means to have a dream, work hard and reach it,” Arnaiz said. “I do not know of anybody who has worked harder than Sonny, to be the best he can be.”
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Jaworski didn’t have to be asked, but next to his wife Evelyn, nobody could’ve been prouder than that former regular team fixture, the legendary one-woman Ginebra cheering squad by the name of Aling Luming, a school teacher from Tondo and intrepid Big J devotee.
When Jaworski checked on the fans around him, there was no Aling Luming.
She had passed away a few years back, following the Big J’s abrupt exit from the coaching scene.
There will never be another Jaworski, in the same way there may never be another adorer as devoted as the great Aling Luming.
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Anyway, it was bound to be asked what the Big J was up to this time.
Is he rejoining the national political derby?
Jaworski was not exactly being vague when he hinted at a comeback.
“I hope we will be given a chance to be together once more,” Jaworski said in parting.
He said he hoped it would be a more memorable association.
Knowing commissioner Salud, he won’t hesitate to give Jaworski a chance to infect the league with his legendary spirit.
Could they appoint him as dean of dedication and discipline, to personally check the lagging competitiveness of other players?
Jaworski, of course, knows how to put an end to the days of the lazy, pampered but shallow aspirant legends.
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