Guidaben dreams to return to RP
- Joaquin M. Henson () - July 5, 2010 - 12:00am

NEW JERSEY – Since migrating to the US seven years ago, two-time PBA MVP Abet Guidaben hasn’t been back home. He’s resettled in Jersey City with wife Maridol and three of their four children but the 6-5 Camiguin native said yesterday his dream is to return to the Philippines and enhance the sports skills of potential basketball stars in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Guidaben, 57, said he spoke with Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno about the possibility of initiating an honest-to-good grassroots development program starting in Cagayan de Oro when the SBP chairman visited here last year.

“Jolas (Lastimosa) was the last big-name Mindanao player to emerge and we want to develop more stars,” said Guidaben. “I want to help. With my experience, I think I’ll be able to teach big men how to be more effective in a game. I notice the lack of a post presence in several PBA teams. Maybe, I can do something positive to address that problem.”

Guidaben said he plays in PBA Legends exhibitions organized by Abe King whenever there are invitations.

“I was actively playing last year with other PBA veterans like Manny Victorino, Ricky Relosa, Tim Coloso and Eddie Boy Mendoza who are all based in the East Coast,” said Guidaben. “I haven’t been too active this year because of work. But I try to stay in touch with the other players, particularly Billy Ray Bates.”

Guidaben supervises the Northeast operations of Forex Cargo, a forwarding company he set up with partners, in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The services include dollar remittances to the Philippines. His wife is also employed, working as a baby nurse on 24-hour duty in the first two weeks from birth.

“Of my four children, only Katherine, now 21, is in school – a senior at Rider College,” said Guidaben. “My oldest Maria Elizabeth (34) lives in Parañaque with her husband Charlie Gil. They have three children – Carl, 5, Charlie, 3 and Eli Frederick who was born just a few days ago at Christ Hospital here. My son J. R. (30) is a mass communications graduate and former UP player. He is involved in a limo service. Michael, who played for Ateneo, is now vacationing in Manila. His son Sam is three years old. So in all, I’ve got four children and four grandchildren.”

Guidaben said when his daughter Katherine graduates, he’ll probably retire. “That’s when I’ll go back to the Philippines since my obligations to provide education for my children will be over,” he went on.

Guidaben said he recently watched the Smart Gilas team play Dongguang of China in the International Invitational Challenge on the GMA Pinoy Network.

“I like the team’s quickness but without the import (Marcus Douthit), we lack inside presence,” he said. “We must develop outside shooters but if they don’t click, we’ve got to have another option – big guys who can play the post. I’m impressed with Gilas and what the SBP is trying to do in getting us back on top in Asia. No doubt, the players are talented but they’ve got to work as a team. Bobby Parks’ son Ray Ray is definitely a future star with our national team.”

Guidaben said the recent death of PBA veteran RicRic Marata was a big loss.

“RicRic lived in Queens the last 12 years or so,” said Guidaben. “We used to get together in gatherings along with his wife Chato. RicRic was a good friend and a lot of people turned out to pay their respects at his funeral wake and burial.”

Guidaben said aside from King, Francis Arnaiz and Yoyoy Villamin, he keeps in touch with ex-imports Bates, Donnie Ray Koonce, Andy Fields and Parks.

During the recent NBA Finals, Guidaben said what clinched it for the Los Angeles Lakers was their deep bench. “I’m a Cleveland and San Antonio fan so I didn’t really cheer for the Lakers or Boston,” he said. “Because of my position in basketball, I always look at how the centers play when I watch the games on TV. In the Finals, I thought Pau Gasol was the best big man on the floor. Andrew Bynum also contributed but Gasol’s inside game was crucial in the Lakers’ win.”

Guidaben said he owes a lot to the PBA.

“I’ll never forget our Grand Slam in 1983 with Crispa,” he said. “Tommy Manotoc was our coach and I was named MVP. I got my second MVP award in 1987. When I go back to the Philippines, I’d like to do my share in bringing the fans back to watch the PBA. I know there are many alternative forms of entertainment but I think the PBA is still the best wholesome sports entertainment vehicle available.”

Guidaben said when he returns, he’d also like to help out Smart Gilas.

“The team is on the right track,” he said. “If there’s anything I can do to improve how the big guys play, it will be my honor to help.”

Guidaben said if Bates pushes through with his plan to visit Manila before the year ends, the “Black Superman” deserves to be treated like the Legend that he is.

“Billy Ray is struggling to survive and deserves a break,” said Guidaben who played over 1,000 games for Crispa, San Miguel, Manila Beer, Tanduay, Purefoods, Alaska, Pepsi and Shell in a career that ended in 1996. “He’s changed. I know what he was like before and what he is like now. He’s looking for support to publish his autobiography. I hope his Filipino fans come out to show how much they love him.”

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