The NBA lockout did what everyone feared it could do to the NBA season: postponed training camps, cancelled preseason games, and the Smart Gilas Pilipinas out of the FIBA World Championships and the Olympics anew, which is not related to the NBA lockout but sucks, too.
As I mourned these losses, I thought about posting something on the NBA website (where I read the horrible news) about me applauding a young Philippine team that lost its remaining hopes of getting to the World Championships. And then I thought, what could have happened if the team had the likes of Robert “Sonny” Jaworski and any other legend in their prime? Could they have faired better against the current teams of China? Europe? The NBA All Stars?
So I googled Mr. Jaworski and found out about how old he was the last time he was in a basketball court either as a player or a coach (or both!). Scrolling down Wikipedia, I stumbled upon the name of another legend I’ve first heard of back in college. One of my classmates said our professor who has the same last name as the player looked just like him and when asked how he’s related to the player, he didn’t say a thing.
This player was described by Wikipedia as “generally [sic] the greatest basketball player (and certainly the best and most revolutionary player at the center position) produced by the Philippine Basketball Association”.
I haven’t been much of a fan of Philippine basketball and the local players as I know for a fact that most of the guys are not made the way they were back in the days of old. A friend of mine once said that in the past, basketball players were trained to play ALL five positions from point guard to center. Nowadays, they’re trained to play their designated positions, often in accordance to their height and weight. So I’m obviously not a fan of high scorers. Although my favorite player is strictly (and arguably) the best point guard in Steve Nash, I’m also a fan of Oscar Robertson, a retired triple-double machine in his prime.
Ramon Fernandez is not your typical basketball player. Tall enough for the forward and center positions, but with the dribbling, passing and shooting skills of a combo guard. Leader in career points, rebounds and blocks total, and number two overall in career assists and steals. Had four MVPs on four different teams, nineteen championships (the equivalent of six championships in the NBA as the PBA runs three championships a year), one Grand Slam Title or won all three championships in a single year, six all-star games, thirteen Mythical First Selections, three Second Team selections, included in the PBA’s 25 Greatest players list and the Hall of Fame. He was a member of the 1973 FIBA Asia championship and the 1990 Asian Games silver medal teams. So who’s to say we didn’t have anyone who can compare against NBA stars? For more info about this behemoth, just google him.
It’s tough not to wish athletes don’t age at times when your local favorite can’t make it in the international scene, isn’t it? The Philippines was one of the best teams in Asia a long time ago, finishing First Place in the FIBA Asia Championships several times and is the only Asian country to have a FIBA Championship title albeit a bronze one. Forget the fact that no pure blooded Filipino has been to the NBA. We still have the halfblood prince of defense, Mr. Rodman, don’t we?