Hoop veterans get an assist
There had been talks and spirited moves in the past but now it seems that the former professional basketball players of the country finally get to have a viable organization.
The “Return of the Rivals” legends games held recently at Smart Araneta Coliseum featuring Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) heroes of the past solidified efforts to support worthwhile projects including reaching out to colleagues who have come upon hard times.
Skeptics may dismiss the efforts by saying that pro players should have saved for the future during their playing years. And yet as Samahan ng mga Dating Propesyonal na Basketbolista ng Pilipinas Foundation, Inc. head Atoy Co and colleagues Ed Cordero and Allan Caidic explained in a meeting with this reporter a week before the games, not all players had long, fruitful careers.
Some from the pro league’s early generation didn’t really have large or flexible pay checks. And more importantly, the sharpshooter trio (yes, Co, Cordero and Caidic could shred the nets in their heyday) reminded me that there are players who really fell into difficulties due to injuries or illness.
So there’s really nothing amiss for the former players look out for their own, creating previous events like the Samboy Lim fund raiser game, a golf tournament and the legends games. Other community outreach initiatives are also being eyed in the future.
The veterans found a supportive partner in UNTV, the multimedia arm of the Church of God ministry which has, for the last decade, taken a more active general public service role.
Over the last seven years, UNTV chief executive Daniel Razon has spearheaded the UNTV Cup, a basketball championship for charity competition among government agencies. Razon has a soft spot for the sport, having played it in school and has remained a PBA fan.
With Co and Cordero running the UNTV Cup commissioner’s office, it seemed natural that talks would veer toward UNTV lending a helping hand to the pro veterans. The approval of the PBA was essential and commissioner Willie Marcial, who had covered or worked with all the legends over the years, got league support and was an ardent project mover.
The initial P3-million donation and media support of UNTV does not close the door to other organizations that wish to extend a similar assist. It is simply a good seed to plant.