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The Big J in 1983
By BRIAN YALUNG
By BRIAN YALUNG
July 3, 2012, 9:52pm
Manila, Philippines - It was only in 1983 when my dad succeeded in enticing me to follow the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the time when Crispa and Toyota dominated the league. Given the choice and for no apparent reason, I chose to root for the Toyota Silver Coronas (the name Toyota carried that year).
And of course, my main intent back then was to see just who Robert “Sonny” Jaworski really was. Everything was through word of mouth on my end, hearing that Toyota had the best starting five in the league together with the famed Crispa Redmanizers.
It was the PBA All Filipino Conference where I got to see my first PBA game, a Toyota vs. Crispa game at that. However to my dismay, there was no Big J around. At that time, Jaworski was nursing a groin injury, something that kept him out for most of the season.
However, the other stars were there, Abe King, Ramon Fernandez and Arnulfo Tuadles manned the frontcourt, a fearsome trio that gave other teams a lot of problems.
The backcourt seemed to be tender though, with only Francis Arnaiz around. The likes of Emerito Legaspo, Tim Coloso and Chito Loyzaga tried to fill up the void but the shoes left by the Big J at that time were simply too big.
Toyota did win though, spoiling the coaching debut of Tommy Manotoc (who would eventually lead Crispa to another PBA Grand Slam that year). If my memory serves me right, it was Ed Cordero's last second undergoal stab that won the game from them after a Crispa miss.
Toyota had a dismal season that year. Toyota won only 18 games and lost 27 in the three conferences. The best finish they had that year was placing fourth in the All Filipino Conference behind a much improved Great Taste Coffee team.
Jaworski did play that year but the extent of his injury seemed to have hastened his ability to weave the magic he has been doing for his ballclub since he donned a Toyota jersey. Regardless though, the atmosphere at the Araneta Coliseum and even on national television was electric.
Each time his name would be mentioned or when he got to touch the leather, you could hear the crowd’s jubilation as they were expecting something amazing like Sonny’s patented behind the back pass or his trademark shooting release.
That was the last that Sonny donned the Toyota jersey, not counting the reunion game that was held in 2003. There were other exhibition games as well held in Saudi Arabia rare glimpses of a rivalry that got cut short after 1983.
After Toyota disbanded in 1983, Jaworski landed with Gilbeys Gin. As we all know, Jaworski brought the La Tondena franchise to new heights, handing them their first crown in 1986 when they defeated the Ramon Fernandez-led Manila Beer Brewmasters, 4-1, in the PBA Open Conference that year.
Sonny followed this up with an All-Filipino title in 1988 carrying the Anejo Rum 65 colors when they defeated Purefoods 3-1.
Jaworski was also responsible for handing a third title in 1991, the memorable 4-3 series win over Shell. The last time Sonny won a PBA title was in 1997 when Gordon’s Gin outlasted Alaska, 4-2 in the PBA Commissioners Cup.
However, the Big J had not officially retired. And this is what the big ceremony on July 8 is all about. We have been seeing various articles and commercials about the Big J and on my part, these are the fondest memories I could think of about the Living Legend since following the league back in 1983.
On a side note, it is just too bad that another PBA legend who has ironically started his career in 1983, wasn’t able to make his schedule meet with Jaworski’s special day.
This is with reference of course to Ricky Brown who is scheduled to plane in by July 16 and hold a series of mall tours. Ricky had really wanted to be there for the ceremonies but conflict in schedule just did not allow it. Now that would have been something.
Source: Manila Bulletin
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