Sports hero passes

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Last week, the remains of the late Mauricio (Moying) Martelino were inurned at the familys Magallanes crypt with his wife and daughter in Makati. When I found out about Moyings passage last Sept. 22, I immediately texted his son Cito to express sympathy and I mentioned Ill miss him because he was special as a friend, sports leader, mentor and hero. I delivered this eulogy during one of the nine-day novenas to explain why.

When the Philippines was suspended by FIBA in 2005, it was Moying who stepped up to save our country. He unraveled multiple solutions until finally, SBP came into existence and received recognition from FIBA and POC. In the process of working a solution, Moying found himself elected as president of the Philippine Basketball Federation or PBF, a position he didnt aspire for but took if only to abide by FIBAs conditions for reform. Former Cong. Eddie Gullas was supposed to be the president but withdrew a day before the elections and Moying was left holding the bag. He reluctantly accepted the honor but as it turned out, the PBF was a transition organization that eventually led to the creation of SBP.

From 1991 to 1998, Moying served as secretary-general of the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC), now known as FIBA Asia, and was the driving force that transformed the region into a power core of 44 nations. He was awarded the Order of Merit by FIBA in 1999 in recognition of his efforts. Moying was also director of the Qatar sports program for five years, a position he accepted not for himself but for our country as it meant cementing a relationship with the Middle East.

In 1978, Moying was executive director of the Organizing Committee of the FIBA World Cup that Manila hosted. I remember him recounting that influential newspaper columnist Doroy Valencia negotiated a major sponsorship from a soft drink company, a competitor of the brand that had an exclusive contract with the Araneta Coliseum and even arranged a raffle of 10 Toyota cars, on display at the Rizal Park, with a P1 ticket as an entry to the games. Moying billeted the visiting teams at the five-star Philippine Plaza Hotel, now Sofitel, and designated an air-conditioned coach, called the Love Bus, for each team. Every game was packed to the rafters even if the Philippines had no game in the schedule. Moyings expertise in handling events was also on display at the 1981 and 2005 SEA Games.

As a leader, Moying never lost sight of the big picture. In 1983, the Philippines was led to an ambush by China and a late ruling reversed its two elimination round wins at the ABC Championships in Hong Kong. Ill never forget Moying fighting for the Philippines in the ABC Board Room, arguing that our use of naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still in the two elimination round games was legal. But China had control of the Board, reversed the outcome of both wins and relegated the Philippines to the consolation pool, disqualified from the eight-team quarterfinals. Ill never forget it because I was with Moying in the Board Room as an observer and tried to voice out the Philippinescase until I was thrown out of the room because I wasnt a member of the Board. The Philippines, coached by Ron Jacobs, was undefeated on the court in that tournament but finished in ninth place because it was barred from entering the playoffs.

But the fight didnt end there. Moying worked relentlessly to redeem the Philippines and two years later, Moore and Still were recognized by FIBA and the Philippines won the ABC crown, the last time our country ruled Asia. Redemption came because of Moying. More on Moying in the conclusion of our eulogy tomorrow.

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