Basketball legend Russell once told PH great Campos to just shoot the ball | Inquirer Sports

Basketball legend Russell once told PH great Campos to just shoot the ball

By: - Desk Editor / @dencioINQ
/ 09:36 AM June 05, 2017

Ramoncito Campos, right, with Bill Russell at the Olympic Village during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. With them are Eddie Lim (left) and Martin Urra Sr. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Bill Russell, who made NBA history playing for the legendary Boston Celtics, once told Ramoncito Campos of the Philippine basketball team to just shoot the ball.

The event, according to respected basketball historian Prof. Jose Maria Escoda of Adamson University, was the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Campos and the Filipino nationals played against the United States Olympic team which eventually won the gold medal.


Before the game, Campos with fellow Olympians Eddie Lim and Martin Urra Sr. also joined the 11-time NBA champion for a photo oppurtunity at the Olympic Village.


The US handily beat the Philippines, 121-53. But Campos and company actually gave the Philippines its highest finish ever in the Olympics after taking 7th spot.

Russell, according to Escoda, who authored Basketball History: Philippines told Campos: ‘‘Ramon, I will be guarding you.’’

Escoda wrote: ‘‘When that opportune time came that their teams faced each other, Bill Russel indeed guarded the country’s first and only ambidextrous shooter. And whenever Campos had the ball, Russel, who stood one foot higher than Ramoncito, would say, “shoot Ramon…shoot.”

The American great defense man known for his remarkable record of blocked shots (in the NCAA and later at the NBA) didn’t give his best against his Filipino friend who later sunk the basket.

The 5-foot-10 Ramoncito Campos was able to score seventeen points in a losing cause against the US.

But Russell, according to Escoda, didn’t give Filipino great Caloy ‘‘Great Difference’’ Loyzaga the privilege of getting easy shots. At 6-foot-3, Loyzaga manned the slot for the Philippines against the 6-foot-10 Russell.


A three-time Olympian, Campos passed away last May 29 at the age of 92. His remains were cremated. He competed in the  1948 London, 1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne Games.

A De La Salle Hall of Famer and a member of the Philippine Basketball Hall of Fame, the friendship between Russell and the Spanish-speaking Campos was made doubly significant  by the fact that racism was alive during that time.

‘‘Russell, a black man, and Campos, a mestizo became good friends at a time when racism was alive,’’ noted Escoda.

Campos also played for the triumphant University of Santo Tomas alongside Fely and Gabby Fajardo, Pocholo Martinez and Francisco Vestil, who all saw action in the London Olympics.

A member of the famed YCO team owned by Don Manolo Elizalde, Campos was honored during the “Pagpupugay” initiated by Manolo Chino Trinidad two years ago at the Resorts World, which became the scene of a carnage recently.

‘‘I will never forget his story about the Rizal Memorial Gallery whenever he will shoot his free throws. He said the peanut gallery (General Admission) will actually place bets whether he was going to shoot with his right or left hand,’’ remembered Trinidad. ‘‘He always had a story to tell. Walang pinipiling kausap.’’

Veteran scribe Ignacio Dee noted that ‘‘Ramoncito Campos was not a heavy scorer unlike his contemporary, Fely Fajardo, but he scored when needed. In the 1948 Olympic team, there was Fajardo and Andy de la Cruz of FEU, the UAAP scoring champ, but Campos was the go-to-guy, plus Vestil, Gabby Fajardo.’’

Escoda said the ability of Campos to shoot using his right and left hand was very much unlike the ‘‘orinola’’ style during the 1930s. 

It turned out that Ramoncito’s father Dr. Ramon Campos was able to witness  one ambidextrous American player of a visiting American team. Being a physician, Dr. Campos used his knowledge of Human Physiology in making Ramoncito’s left and hand strong enough in flipping the ball from a distance with either with the left or right hand. 

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Ramoncito, according to Escoda, called it quits as a player after Melbourne though he managed the Meralco team and served as consultant of DLSU. He also became Physical Education Director of FEU.

TAGS: Bill Russell, NBA, Olympics, Philippines

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