Narras fell in sports in 2016
So much for the philosophical question that if a tree, however majestic falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
When giant narras fell in Philippine sports in 2016 attended by the din of affectionate news, everyone sure heard about their demise.
We bade farewell this year to transformational and inspirational individuals.
Sports fans will always cherish the spaces where these national symbols once towered and eventually will mark their passing as a practical lesson in mortality.
Among those we lost this year were Carlos Loyzaga, local basketball’s original superstar and Baby Dalupan, its winningest coach.
Baseball said goodbye to Filomeno “Boy” Codinera and shooting to Mariano “Tom” Ong.
But nothing will hold a more lasting conversation in our close-knit community of sportswriters than the passing of three among us, broadcasters Hermie Rivera, Ronnie Nathanielsz and Benjie Castro.
He earned acclaim as the greatest Filipino basketeer of all time. From the old Tervalac courts in Sta. Mesa, Manila, Loyzaga emerged as the most dominating figure in local cagedom for years. He will be remembered both for our mastery of basketball in Asia and our faded regional glory in a sport now ruled by the behemoths of China.
Called “The Maestro,” the diminutive Dalupan was a giant among bench tacticians.
At retirement, he had 52 titles under his belt in both the collegiate and professional ranks.
Boy was local softball and baseball’s fearsome slugger who landed in the Guinness Book of World Records for belting seven consecutive doubles during the 1968 world softball finals in Oklahoma City in 1968.
Tom who represented PH in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games passed on his sharpshooting prowess to his son, Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla.
The careers of Rivera, 77 and Nathanielsz, 81 would be linked forever to that of Muhammad Ali, who also died this year.
Rivera emceed Ali’s press conference for the Thrilla in Manila with Smokin Joe Frazier while Nathanielsz served as media liaison to “The Greatest” leading to the classic bout.
As famous boxing voices, Hermie and Ronnie became the progenitors of a bonanza of broadcasters that followed, including Castro of the country’s only all sports radio station who at 61 followed his elders to their hermitically sealed announcing booth in the sky.
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