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Tribute to Big Boy

It was a touching tribute by former Sen. Robert Jaworski who led a special prayer in memory of his late teammate Alberto (Big Boy) Reynoso before the Rain Or Shine-Barako Bull game in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Sunday.

The Big J came just for the tribute. Reynoso passed away last Nov. 19 at the age of 71 in Sacramento, California, due to a lingering illness. He turned pro at 35 in the PBA’s inaugural season in 1975 and played for Toyota until 1977. The 6-2, 220-pound center averaged 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in his PBA career.

Reynoso saw action on the Philippine team that placed 13th at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. He also suited up for the national squad that took the FIBA-Asia title in 1973 and competed at the FIBA World Championships in 1974.

Former Pasig Mayor Mario Raymundo, a regular PBA watcher, said he discovered Reynoso playing in barangay inter-color tournaments in the city and brought him to San Beda College. 

Former Ateneo cage star Bobby Rius, now living in Las Vegas, said Reynoso played for his father Arturo who coached the San Beda Red Lions. “I remember my dad buying Big Boy his first basketball shoes,” said Rius. “I think it was Jimmy Lucas who told my dad about Big Boy. Most of my dad’s ’59 team players are gone. Tata Caranceja is the only one left, I think.”

Lucas was also from Pasig. Reynoso played at Rizal High School and represented Rizal at the interscholastics where he was discovered, according to Dante Sta. Ana. Reynoso and Caranceja were the first NCAA players selected to join the Philippine team. Tony Valenzuela said, “Big Boy and his (late) brother Tino spent their childhood in Pasig, ask any batang Pasig during the past era and they’ll tell you about their humble beginnings and their old house is still standing.”

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Since October, two other PBA veterans have passed away – Dave Regullano and Epoy Alcantara. Regullano, 63, died of a heart attack.  He played five years in the PBA, averaging 9.3 points in 206 games, and retired in 1980. My good friend Robin Tong, a basketball historian from Ateneo, said Regullano came from Ateneo de Naga and played on the Blue Eagles 1966-67 squad with the Alabanza brothers Harry and Jimmy. Regullano transferred to Letran which he led to the NCAA crown with Rudy Hines and the Pineda brothers Ricky and Mollet in 1970. The 6-4 forward known for his black hi-tops joined Reynoso on the 1973 FIBA-Asia Philippine champion team.

Alcantara, 65, played five years in the PBA with Mariwasa from 1975 to 1979. He was a Crispa fixture in the MICAA in the early ‘70s. Alcantara, a newspaper advertising executive for decades, represented the country at the 1967 Universiade, the 1970 Pesta Sukan and the 1971 Pesta Sukan.     

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Barangay Ginebra forward Rudy Hatfield, hoping to make a PBA comeback after a self-imposed hiatus, recently called out to several individuals to whom he is thankful for their friendship and guidance throughout his stay in the Philippines.

“Starting with coaches, how could I not thank Chot Reyes for putting up with my crazy antics and wild attitude?” he said. “I don’t know too many coaches who could have handled me and still won championships. Thank you, Chot. Coach Jong Uichico, of course. He had to deal with an experienced version of the H-Bomb explosions but it was definitely still not very peaceful. He has really reached out to me while I was away from my family and treated me with respect and admiration. Thank you, Jong.

“The Lyons family headed by pastor Greg Lyons. How can I ever truly thank them? They have been my family away from family, inviting me into their home as if I were one of their own. His wife Luanne, sons Luke, Corey and Jake, daughters Micah and Alex and the rest of the crew have truly been a blessing in my life. Thank you, the Lyons family.

“How can I ever forget the fans? Those who followed me from Laguna through Tanduay, gathering some more along the way to Pop Cola, building an entourage with Coca-Cola, having an entire nation behind us on the national team and solidifying it all with the die-hard Ginebra fans. I am truly honored to have played for them, with them and against them. I am even more honored to be a Filipino, just like them. Thank you, all my Filipino fans.”

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In case you missed the Magical Parade of Lights at the Araneta Center last Saturday, catch the repeat performance tomorrow. It’s definitely a must-see. The Magical Parade of Lights starts at 6 p.m. from the giant Christmas tree parking lot and is reminiscent of the Main Street Electrical Parade, famous for its long run at Disneyland until 1996. Just like its Disney counterpart, the Araneta version features floats covered by thousands of electronically controlled lights. Drumbeaters and street dancers will accompany the parade, described as a visual explosion of electric lights. The Magical Parade of Lights will also take to the streets on Dec. 10 and 17.

The multi-colored electric floats depict creatures of the sea lit up by thousands of flickering light bulbs in a parade that will snake through the major streets of the Araneta Center. The floats were featured during the Capizahan fiesta in Roxas City.

“The Magical Parade of Lights is just one part of the menu of Christmas activities lined up at the Araneta Center this season,” said Araneta Group corporate communications manager Tessa Mangahas. “After the traditional Christmas tree lighting, different chorale groups will sing favorite Christmas carols every day until Dec. 31 at Farmers Plaza, Ali Mall and Gateway Mall. There will also be a weekly fireworks display. And of course, there is the Disney of Ice ‘Let’s Celebrate’ from Dec. 25 to Jan. 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.”

PBA games will continue to be played at the Big Dome during the holiday season with the playoffs set to reel off right after the eliminations end on Dec. 11.

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