This Baby is Philippine caging’s giant like no other | Inquirer Sports
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This Baby is Philippine caging’s giant like no other

Baby Dalupan

Baby Dalupan addresses the crowd at the annual PSA awards in 2011. Photo by Celest Colina/

HE’S KNOWN as Baby, but there’s nothing small or puny about Virgilio Dalupan’s place in the field of basketball coaching in the country.

He’s a colossus among the nation’s cage mentors with an awesome collection of 52 championships from the college ranks, amateur level, commercial leagues and the professional Philippine Basketball Association.


Baby, who died at age 92 last week, started coaching in 1955 at University of the East, then owned by his family, and collected 12 titles, including seven straight from 1965.

Along the way, he ruled the National Inter-Collegiate six times before it became the national students caging that was later ditched by the now defunct Basketball Association of the Philippines.


He broke into big time coaching in 1962 in partnership with his late compadre and friend Danny Floro and turned Crispa into one of the country’s top basketball teams.

Fielding most of his aces from UE and other stars from the UAAP, he rewarded Crispa with four Micaa (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) crowns from 1970-1974 while nailing 12 other championships organized by the BAP like the National Seniors, Metro Open and National Invitational.

But it was in the PBA where Dalupan showed his true mettle as coach. After stopping Dante Silverio’s bid for a three-conference sweep of the league’s inaugural staging in 1975 with the Toyota Comets, the Crispa Redmanizers pulled off the same Grand Slam trick the next year. He went on to win eight more times for Crispa. After giving Great Taste Coffee five crowns and Purefoods once, he left the PBA only to be lured out of retirement to give Ateneo, his alma mater, two more titles in the NCAA shortly before the Eagles joined the UAAP.

The fact that Baby failed to score big in five stints with the national team did nothing to diminish his gigantic role and contribution to basketball.

We saw him last when the Philippine Sportswriters Association bestowed on him the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. He’d already lost his sight by then but he was animatedly mingling with sportswriters and other guests during the affair with the help of an aide, who said he still recognizes people by hearing their voice.

“How are you, coach? Glad you could come,” we greeted him when he came to our table.

With little hesitation, he exclaimed “Ernie” and gave us a little hug.


It was a moment we will never forget.

* * *

There’s no high wire act this time as TNT KaTropa continued to boost its status as the strongest contender for the championship of the ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup.

Already blessed with a star-studded lineup, TNT unveiled another explosive hand in Asian import Mike Madanly who delivered 30 points off the bench to power the KaTropa to a sixth straight victory and a slot in the quarterfinals of the single round eliminations.

The reinforcement from Syria broke loose in the second half as TNT smashed a 52-52 halftime deadlock en route to a 124-117 whipping of upset-conscious Phoenix last week. Ranidel de Ocampo, one of four Gilas Pilipinas mainstays in the squad, added 17 points and Mychal Ammons, playing his second game as main import of TNT, came up with another solid outing of 22 points and 18 rebounds.

Now two games ahead of three teams tied for second with 4-2 win-loss records, the

KaTropa look a cinch to finish among the top four quarterfinalists that will enjoy a twice-to-beat bonus against the rest of the qualifiers.

Defending champion San Miguel Beer briefly took second place with a double overtime escape over Barangay Ginebra, 111-105, last Sunday only to get the upset axe from resurgent GlobalPort, 98-92.

Upstart Mahindra also dropped in the company of SMB and Ginebra at second following another loss, this time from NLEX, 82-81.

Minus the results of Sunday’s doubleheader, Rain or Shine remains a strong quarterfinal contender at 3-2 followed by Meralco (4-3) and NLEX (3-3). Before toppling SMB, GlobalPort had decisioned Meralco in two overtimes, 126-123, to barge into the win column. With their 2-4 card, the Batang Pier are tied with Phoenix and Alaska, which sent Star deep in the cellar with Blackwater at 1-5 following an 85-69 rout in Panabo City last Saturday.

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