Throwback: Patrimonio-Fernandez home visit clinched Purefoods stint

Roy Luarca - Philstar.com
Throwback: Patrimonio-Fernandez home visit clinched Purefoods stint
Alvin Patrimonio (L) and Ramon Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines – The surprise visit happened 32 years ago, but Alvin Patrimonio still vividly remembers.

He and his family were at their home at BF Resort in Las Pinas when somebody knocked on the door.

And voila, there was Ramon Fernandez, his basketball idol.

Alvin got awe-struck and so did his father, the late Angel, a member of the Jose Rizal University NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) champion team in the 1952-53 season.

No wonder, it sealed the deal for Patrimonio heading to Purefoods as a direct-hire in the 1988 Philippine Basketball Association season with Fernandez as playing coach.

Fernandez later relinquished the coaching job to concentrate on playing, but ultimately left the team following a spat with the top brass and transferred to San Miguel Beer, while Patrimonio opted to stay behind.

A stickler for loyalty, Patrimonio stayed on, pushing Purefoods to six titles and earning four Most Valuable Player (1991, 93, 94, 97) awards, tying Fernandez, before retiring in 2004 and assuming the post of team manager.

"I look up to him because he's an all-around player," Patrimonio told The Link podcast Monday night. "He's also a team player and a competitor."

They played together for the 1990 PBA Dream Team to the Asian Games mentored by Living Legend Robert Jaworski, who Patrimonio also admires for his leadership, never say die attitude, and charisma to the fans.

"You won't get bullied with him (Jaworski) by your side," said Patrimonio, the team manager of the Magnolia Hotshots.

Successful as his PBA career was, Patrimonio said there were also lows.

Particularly when he missed the second of two free throws, which could have swayed the outcome of the Philippines' 76-79 lost to Japan in the bronze medal game of the Hiroshima Asiad.

"I got sad because that play was designed for me by coach Norman (Black)," bared Patrimonio, who made the first and was also expected to make the second being the PBA's most accurate free-throw shooter with a lifetime percentage of 85.8 percent.

The second time Patrimonio felt down was when a longtime buddy and reciprocal kumpadre Jerry Codinera left Purefoods for Mobiline in 1999.

"We've been a tandem for so long I didn't foresee that we'd part ways," said Patrimonio, adding how he wished Codinera would have been named co-MVP with him in two occasions where they were the pacesetters in the MVP chase.

There were many highs, of course.

Just like in 1988, when he powered the star-studded Philippine Centennial Team past host Chinese-Taipei, 82-72, in the Jones Cup finals.

And each time the Hotdogs clinch a championship, which he values over individual awards.

There was a funny moment, too, when he was still lording it over in the defunct Philippine Amateur Basketball League under the YCO Painters banner. Following the opening tip-off, Patrimonio got hold of the ball, sped away, and dunked the ball — at the opponent's goal.

With the PBA in recess due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrimonio is looking forward to a sedentary life after basketball.

"After basketball, I'd probably return to my early passion, chess," said Patrimonio, who started playing the game in grade school and continued up to his secondary days at Manila Science.

He stopped playing the game when he was taking up civil engineering and at the same time leading Mapua in the NCAA wars, where he was named back-to-back MVP despite the Cardinals failing to reach the Finals.

"Chess principles also apply in basketball. You need mental toughness, read the mind of an opponent, and anticipate the moves."

For now, however, Patrimonio is focused at the task at hand. Guiding the Hotshots to another crown when the PBA reopens.

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