Handshake melted ice between Fernandez, Jaworski
Former teammates turned rivals and now the PBA's iconic stars Ramon Fernandez (left) and Robert Jaworski Sr.
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Handshake melted ice between Fernandez, Jaworski
Roy Luarca (Philstar.com) - August 13, 2020 - 1:05pm

MANILA, Philippines – A winning play bridged the river between Ramon Fernandez and Robert Jaworski over three decades ago.

It occurred during the first PBA All-Star game at the then Ultra (now PhilSports Arena) on June 4, 1989.

Getting the midcourt inbound pass from Jaworski, Fernandez dribbled and drove in before rising for a reverse layup with one second to go, which lifted the Veterans past the Rookies/Sophomores, 132-130.

When the final buzzer sounded, Fernandez and his teammates swapped high-fives as the full-house crowd applauded in appreciation of the exhibition turned cliffhanger.

And then the unexpected moment, instigated by the late legendary coach Baby Dalupan, happened.

Fernandez and Jaworski, former Toyota superstars turned bitter rivals, shook hands — a gesture that signaled the end of a chronicled feud.

"It thawed the ice," Fernandez, the four-time MVP and now commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission told The Link podcast Monday night.

The handshake also added luster to the handiwork of Fernandez and Jaworski, the 1978 MVP and former senator, conniving for the game-clincher.

According to Fernandez, who holds the PBA all-time record in most points scored (18,996), total rebounds (8,652), total blocks (1,853), minutes played (36,624) and titles won (19); his rift with Jaworski was fueled by the write-ups of sportswriters covering the PBA beat then.

"Since 1973, Jaworski and I were teammates already," said Fernandez, who regards Jaworski as the best among his Toyota teammates. "He was definitely at the top of my list."

Fernandez also clarified the Toyota Super Corollas disbandment in 1984 was due to the financial strain suffered by their company sponsor. Not because of a power struggle within the team. He became the franchise player of Beer Hausen while Jaworski went to Gilbey's Gin.

"There was really no power play, no room for such thing in team sports," said Fernandez, who also ended up No. 2 in total assists (5,220) and steals (1,302) when he retired in 1994 after 20 pro seasons.

According to Fernandez, their rivalry became personal when they parted ways and played against each other in the 1986 All-Filipino Conference Finals. The fact that their teams, Tanduay Rhum and Ginebra, were corporate rivals, further lit up the flames.

Their rivalry was extinguished only when Jaworski, who played his last game in 1997, officially retired in 1998 at age 52.

Fernandez returned the assist favor to Jaworski on May 30, 2003, during the Toyota-Crispa reunion game at Araneta Coliseum.

Bogs Adornado drilled in a triple to push Crispa to within 62-61. In the next play, Fernandez found Jaworski open atop the key and flicked the ball.

Without hesitation, Jaworski, then a sitting senator, fired the clutch 3-pointer that sealed the outcome, 65-61.

And just like in 1989, Fernandez and Jaworski swapped hand slaps. Friendship rekindled.

They met in the court again in 2018 as spectators in Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series between San Miguel Beer and Ginebra.

Again, they shook hands. And it was even longer, firmer, warmer. Friends forever.

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