Big J’s goosebumps
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 4, 2014 - 12:00am

PBA legend Robert Jaworski said he got goosebumps the other day when flicking the gallery in his cellphone, Samboy Lim’s picture popped out. It was a photo of the Philippine team that Jaworski coached at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.

“Look at Samboy,” Jaworski pointed to the Skywalker in his cellphone. “He’s standing beside Rey Cuenco who has passed away.” Cuenco died of a liver ailment in 1996 and is the only casualty on the 1990 squad so far. Lim, 52, suffered a cardiac arrest after playing six minutes in an exhibition game at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig last Friday and is now confined at the ICU of the Medical City, still in a state of unconsciousness. Jaworski said he’ll visit Lim in the hospital.

Lim shot two triples then was recalled to the bench by coach Bogs Adornado in that fateful game. He complained of a shoulder pain, drank water then collapsed. Lim was rushed to the emergency center of the Medical City and had no pulse when he was admitted. Doctors revived Lim’s heartbeat but 23 minutes had lapsed before oxygen returned to his body. Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera, Nelson Asaytono and Allan Caidic were at the hospital with Lim’s family that night. To arrest further damage to the brain, Lim was placed on therapeutic hypothermia for 48 hours at a body temperature of 32 degrees. His heart and blood pressure are now stable but he remains under sedation.

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Jaworski will never forget the adventure in Beijing. Norman Black was his assistant coach and the players were Caidic, Hector Calma, Cuenco, Yves Dignadice, Ramon Fernandez, Dante Gonzalgo, Lim, Chito Loyzaga, Ronnie Magsanoc, Benjie Paras, Patrimonio and Zaldy Realubit.

The Philippines started out with a bang, blasting Pakistan, 129-81, then trounced Japan, 86-78 and North Korea, 98-82. China brought the Philippines back to earth with a resounding 125-60 beating. But the Philippines rebounded to defeat the United Arab Emirates, 80-75, and repeated over Japan, 94-90, to seal a finals showdown with the host country. China was bannered by Ma Jian, Shan Tao, Song Ligang, Gong Xiaobin, Sun Fengwu, Zhang Bin, Wang Fei and Zhang Yongjun. The Philippines lost, 90-74, and settled for the silver. It was the Philippines’ best finish in Asian Games basketball since capturing the gold medal in 1962. So Jaworski’s feat has not been surpassed or equaled in 52 years.

“When I coached our team at the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, we went up against China in the finals and they’d been playing for 10 years,” said Jaworski who played and coached in the PBA. “But I think we would’ve had a chance to win the gold if only we hit our outside shots more consistently. Today, I think we can beat China which I notice has a young team. In forming the next Gilas, let’s start with the big guys like JunMar and Greg (Slaughter). Let’s get 14 players who can play together as a team. Nobody should hesitate to join. If LeBron James can play for the US, anyone in the PBA should take it as an honor to play for our country. It’s good to know that today, every player in the PBA is willing to play for the national team.”

Jaworski said it’s time to think out of the box in preparing for the next international competition. “Sometimes, we make the mistake of focusing our defense on the best shooters, forgetting that we should defend the passers, too,” he said. “Also, when we get a 6-5 player, it’s not automatic that he’s a forward. Times are changing.”

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WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao’s sons Jimuel and Michael were at ringside when he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas two years ago. It was the first time they watched their father in action. When Pacquiao asked them to watch him face Chris Algieri in Macau two weeks ago, they were hesitant at first because of their experience in Las Vegas.

Jimuel, who turns 14 in February, and Michael, who turns 13 this month, were assured by Pacquiao that what happened in the Marquez fight was God’s will and had nothing to do with their presence. “My sons are well-trained,” said Pacquiao proudly. “They used to study in air-conditioned classrooms at Brent in Laguna but I brought them to study in a Christian school in General Santos where there is no air-conditioning. I want them to appreciate how others live. I was touched when one day, they came to me asking if they could buy shoes and other things for their classmates.”

Pacquiao’s sons were hardly the jinx as Pacquiao floored Algieri six times enroute to a decisive win by a unanimous decision. When Pacquiao walked into his dressing room to get ready for the fight at the Cotai Arena, he was flanked by his two sons. His wife Jinkee was behind them. It was Pacquiao’s way of teaching his sons that God is the source of power and life, that His will is divine, that there’s no such thing as a jinx if you walk the straight path.

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