Tribute to Ron Jacobs
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - December 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Tomorrow, legendary basketball coach Ron Jacobs turns 68. Although he has been wheelchair-bound, unable to speak and walk, since suffering a stroke nine years ago, Jacobs’ mind remains alert. Jacobs is cared for by his wife Menen whose undying love is an inspiring story as we celebrate Christmas and the joy of giving this season.

No doubt, Jacobs has touched the lives of players, coaches, fans, family and friends in his incredible career that was highlighted by leading Northern Cement to the Jones Cup title in 1981, the Philippines to the Asian Youth crown in 1982, Northern Consolidated to the PBA Third Conference championship in 1985, San Miguel Beer to the Jones Cup diadem in 1985 and the Philippines to the Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA-Asia) throne in 1986. He revolutionized Philippine basketball by introducing tactics, strategies and techniques to the game and opened career opportunities for players and coaches alike. Today, his protégés are the legacy of a wonderful journey that brought Jacobs from Loyola Marymount University in 1980 to settle in the Philippines for good.

Unlike in previous years, Jacobs won’t be receiving visitors in his Makati condo unit tomorrow. Menen, however, said they will take phone calls. Jacobs was hospitalized last week to recover from complications triggered by pneumonia and infection. But Jacobs is unflinchingly upbeat, his spirits buoyed by his wife’s love and the support of San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo Cojuangco who has been his benefactor for 30 years.

As a tribute to Jacobs, here are birthday wishes and messages from his players.

Ricardo Brown, now Ross Middle School principal in Artesia, California – ”It’s been 20 years since we last saw one another. Yes, I still remember the very first time we met. It was right at the end of our West Coast Athletic Conference game in Malibu – Pepperdine vs Loyola Marymount (Jim Harrick vs Ron Jacobs). You came over to me, shook my hand and said, ‘you son of a b*tch, every time we came close, you hit a basket, you killed us, we couldn’t stop you.’ You then smiled and said, ‘you are one great player, Ricardo.’ Who would have thought that a year later, we would be in Taipei bringing the Jones Cup trophy back to my mother’s homeland? You and I both know if they would have allowed us to keep that first NCC team together, we would have made basketball history. We were that good!

“Best wishes to you and your family, coach Jacobs. I have plans to do a book on my career in Philippine basketball and may be returning to Manila next summer. I will make it a point to spend some time with you. May God bless you and your family always. And back in the day, just as we did when we broke huddle during timeouts, this one’s for you, coach – Mabuhay.”

Hector Calma, San Miguel Beer team manager – ”I couldn’t be more grateful to coach Ron who is a father and a true friend to me. He has contributed so much to who I am today. I wish he were well enough to celebrate life with us and to watch my children grow. We miss your presence. Always know we love you very much. Happy birthday, coach Ron!”

Allan Caidic, Ginebra San Miguel assistant coach – ”Coach Ron, all I want is for you to get well. You’re like a father to me and I really miss your presence on the court. Coach Ron, happy, happy birthday.”

* * * *

Joseph Uichico, Ginebra San Miguel coach – ”To my coach, mentor and faithful friend. I am truly grateful God has given me the blessing of knowing you in this lifetime. Times spent on your birthdays, welcoming the new year in Bora, the humbling moments in victories and heartbreaking losses and the valuable lessons inside and outside the court. There will only be one COACH with that old cap.”

Franz Pumaren, former De La Salle coach – ”Wishing you a happy birthday. I’ve known you to be a fighter and I strongly believe you can overcome this. God bless you always! My family and I will be praying for you! I will never forget the time when you allowed me to be your extension inside the court even when I was the youngest in the team – for that, I will always be grateful! Be strong! God bless! Merry Christmas! Happy holidays to you!”

Samboy Lim, Ginebra San Miguel team manager – ”I wish coach Ron a happy birthday and speedy recovery. God bless coach Ron.”

Tonichi Yturri, De La Salle assistant coach – ”To a coach I owe part of what I have become today, a very happy birthday! May you have many, many more. I was never one of the brightest talents playing for you at the time but you would always include my name in the roster. I didn’t know what you saw in me but whatever chord I struck in your heart to patiently devote your time and effort, I will never know. I’ll never forget the time you introduced me as, ‘the fellow who made himself a basketball player.’ If it’s the hard work and persistence that you saw in me, then those are the values I live by today. By instilling in me those lessons, I’ll forever be indebted to you. To a great coach I had a chance to work with, may there be more of you in the world to help guys like me!”

* * * *

Derick Pumaren, former PBA coach – ”Coach Ron, you were the catalyst that got me started on coaching and I will always be grateful to you for that. We all know your remarkable track record as an excellent coach and to be hand-picked and personally trained by you to become a coach was truly quite an honor. I pray your heart be filled with a joyful hope and may you find contentment in knowing that you have blessed others so much just by sharing your God-given gifts and using them well. Happy birthday, coach Ron!”

Alvin Teng, former PBA player – ”Hi, coach Ron, I would like to greet you a happy birthday and a merry Christmas to you and your family. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being such a great coach. You have inspired me and many others in this basketball industry. Your dedication in teaching basketball is really superb and remarkable. I remember, we were together in 1992 during the presidential campaign where we taught kids how to play and held clinics. We went everywhere, rain or shine. Hope you get well the soonest, coach. I know you can inspire a lot more people. More power to you.”

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