A man of integrity, fairness | Inquirer Sports
In Huddle

A man of integrity, fairness

/ 02:49 AM March 12, 2015

There was hardly a sign of what was in store for PBA technical director Ramil Cruz that Saturday morning when we talked to him at Aziza Hotel Coffee Shop in Puerto Princesa.

Ramil was having breakfast, but we sat with him for an update on the UP Maroons’ search for a coach.


I know that the Maroons have resumed regular workouts but from what I heard, conditioning coach Joe Ward has been conducting these sessions. (Last Wednesday though, the Filsports Basketball Association announced that the UP Diliman team was joining the league, with Ward as head coach.

Ramil said that since Rey Madrid had stepped down as Maroons head coach, he has lost touch with members of the team. He has no idea if the Maroons have found a new coach to replace Madrid.


Ramil took over the coaching reins of UP when Madrid was suspended and is credited with the team’s one and only victory last season. Ramil was in between jobs in the PBA when he had a brief coaching stint with the Maroons.

He resigned from his highly stressful job that had everything to do with officiating, but was eventually wooed back by PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial, who dangled a promotion.

The PBA was having difficulty looking for someone to fill his shoes. Ramil knew his basketball, he was well-educated, intelligent, fair, and possessed   an unquestionable integrity. He’s a likeable fellow.

My son Raymond, Ramil’s former teammate, said he is best remembered for his buzzer-beating layup in the knockout game with FEU which paved the way for the Maroons’ entry to the championship round of the UAAP against UE in 1986.

Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc and Eric Altamirano were also in the ’86 team that won the UAAP championship.

* * *

At dawn the following day, a couple of PBA staff knocked on Ramil’s hotel room to wake him up since they were supposed to take a trip to the town market, but nobody answered.


They opened the door to find Ramil’s lifeless body. He had died in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack.

The night before, Ramil had been complaining of tummy ache which wouldn’t go away despite high doses of antacids. Colleagues said he had been restless all night and tried to walk off his tummy ache. He didn’t want to go to the hospital. He just walked and walked around the pool area until he got sleepy.

* * *

Former PBA legends who once played for the most popular team in the land have reunited to form the coaching staff of Liver Marin, a new team that debuts in the Foundation Cup of the PBA D-League.

ATC Healthcare Corp, manufacturer/distributor of Liver Marin, has appointed Rodney Santos as head coach, with Bal David and Banjo Calpito as his deputies. The team has formed a school tie-up with the San Sebastian Stags.

“With our lineup of veteran coaches, we are confident that our players will be inspired to play at a high level,” said Albert Chua, one of the team’s three owners. Arnold Vegafria and Richard Sy, the two other owners, admitted that they are aiming for a Cinderella finish in their maiden season.

“There’s nothing wrong with aiming for the highest, is there?” Vegafria said.

The Liver Marin team is composed of Bradwyn Guinto, Jamil Ortouste, Mike Calisaan, Jerick Fabian, Jeff Santos, Bobby Balucanag, Leo de Vera, Jovit dela Cruz, Choi Ignacio, Jansen Rios, Joseph Ambohot, Moy Abad, Jhygrus Laude and Ryan Costelo.

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TAGS: PBA technical director, Ramil Cruz
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