Dalupan: Legacy of a hardboiled warrior | Inquirer Sports
Bare Eye

Dalupan: Legacy of a hardboiled warrior

/ 02:49 AM August 21, 2016

ASKED for a line on the coaching immortal Virgilio Dalupan, all this retired basketball reporter could mutter was, “Great, unyielding mentor and maestro, the greatest coach I’ve come to know.”

How coach Dalupan came to be called Baby D. I never had the chance to dig out. But one thing is for sure: Dalupan was never a baby whenever it came to fighting it out in a basketball game or, much earlier, in his own school of hard knocks.


Coach Dalupan was a dyed-in-the-wool warrior. Surrender was never in his vocabulary.

You see, with his record achievements, like the 12 UAAP titles capped by seven consecutive varsity crowns, and the 15 PBA championships that stood unmatched for 23 years, there would ultimately come the sneer remark that Dalupan was a spoiled brat who always had the luxury of cornering the best of them for his lineups in both UAAP and the PBA.


He had always been “babied” when forming his great teams?

* * *

That’s baloney. For starters, as noted by veteran sports editor Ding Marcelo, who first came to know Dalupan as a reed-thin disciplinarian at University of the East off Recto Ave., when the university belt main artery was still called Azcarraga, Coach Baby was a molder of stars who had a sharp eye for talent and inborn skills.

Noted Marcelo in a classic piece for the Manila Bulletin yesterday: “Dalupan was not just the UE coach, he was also the school’s athletic director … Back in Dalupan’s day, players applied and underwent tryouts. Dalupan interviewed each one, then told them to return on a specific date for the actual tryout. In the tryout, the coach later known as “The Maestro” assessed their talent, their basketball IQ, their physique and speed, and nearly everything else except, perhaps, their teeth, as traders do to horses before buying them. Or perhaps he did that too-who knows?”

OK, later out in the PBA, Dalupan in partnership with the philanthropic Danny Floro, manager of the Crispa Redmanizers, coach Baby did have the luxury of selecting from a commercial pool oozing with talents that included established national team stars and internationalists.

* * *

Well, this one is not known to even keen observers of the Philippine pro league. In the PBA, Dalupan, at star-studded Crispa had had to wage many dugout battles with several “spoiled” players on certain problematic nights when corruptible superstars would refuse to play up to par. Dalupan, as would be bared by chief aide Amado Recio, never hesitated to challenge misbehaving mainstays to a fistfight.


As would later be noted about The Partnership in a Crispa championship scrap book, “Floro spoils them, Dalupan disciplines them.”
It’s hard to imagine how Dalupan was able to rein in his temperamental stars that would later include the inscrutable Billy Ray Bates, an NBA phenom, a misguided hardcourt missile who later signed up with the red-hot Redmanizers.

* * *

Now, this little tale should not be left out, if we are to trace the original foundation of Dalupan’s greatness and legacy.

During his early college days, Dalupan would come to have a misunderstanding with a bigger schoolmate, probably a braggart and bully.

That conflict would later deteriorate into a formal fistfight, with schoolmates forming a ring around the combatants.

Dalupan, as recalled by the late Ambassador Rudolfo G. Tupas, my editor in the old Sunday Times Magazine (of Don Chino Roces), got beaten in the first encounter. He humbly accepted defeat, but only after getting assurance from his opponent that they would meet and do battle again the next day, same time, same place.

That was a Monday. The quarrelling duo slug it out again on Tuesday. Dalupan accepted defeat, but also demanded that they fight again that Wednesday. They did, Dalupan lost again, but readily insisted they square it out that Thursday. They fought it out a fourth straight day, with Dalupan predictably losing, and again demanding, more vehemently now, for a fifth bout, same time, same place.

Dalupan was early at the battle scene. His bigger, stronger foe was a no-show that Friday.

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TAGS: Crispa, Legacy, PBA, stars
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