Farewell to a sports hero

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Today, we conclude our two-part eulogy on Mauricio (Moying) Martelino. As we mentioned yesterday, Moying was a friend, sports leader, mentor and hero. And this eulogy explains why.

In 2015, SBP lost to China in a bid to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup after making a stirring audio-visual presentation, hosted by Fil-Am actor Lou Diamond Phillips, before the FIBA Central Board in Tokyo.  The SBP delegation included chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, then Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Sonny Angara, Rep. Robbie Puno, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Ambassador Albert del Rosario, then PBA commissioner Chito Salud, coach Chot Reyes and players Jimmy Alapag and Kobe Paras. MVP outfitted the delegates with a Barong Tagalog with an embroidered red heart on the left breast, reflecting the battlecry “Laban, Pilipinas, Puso.”

Moying joined the delegation as SBPs chief senior adviser and proudly wore the Barong Tagalog. The Philippines’ 20-minute presentation was a huge hit and Chinas Yao Ming admitted it was far better than his countrys. But Chinas offer to mobilize eight cities with accessible infrastructure in welcoming the 32 competing countries was overwhelming. There was an extended debate within the FIBA Central Board before the 14-7 vote was announced to award the rights to China.

But Moying knew that if the Philippines continued to show FIBA its unflinching passion for the game, there would be a chance to host the next FIBA World Cup. And so it happened. In 2017, FIBA awarded the Philippines the lead role as host in staging the 2023 FIBA World Cup with Japan and Indonesia participating as co-hosts in the preliminaries. Moying played a key role in paving the way for the approval which was unprecedented because it meant Asia would host the FIBA World Cup back-to-back, veering away from the tradition of zonal or continental rotation. How appropriate that Moyings son Cito is the SBP head of operations for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Moying would be so proud.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said before Moying passed last Sept. 22, he requested to wear the SBP Barong Tagalog with the red heart in his wake. He laid in state and was cremated wearing the Barong Tagalog. That was how strong Moyings love for sports and our country was.

It was also Moying who brought the Philippines back to the FIBA World Cup as a competitor in 2014 after a 36-year absence. Moyings relationship with Asias basketball influencers led to Manila hosting the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships and our second place finish earned a ticket to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Once more, Moyings magic worked wonders. His appreciation of the big picture, foresight and vision were hallmarks of his thought process.

Although Moying had the stature of a basketball player, he never suited up for the Ateneo varsity during his college days and told me once he was good only for intramurals. His cousin Dodo played for the Blue Eagles and YCO in the commercial leagues. But Moyings passion for the game was unparalleled. And that passion, Moying brought to other sports that he helped propel to new heights like bowling and volleyball. Moying was instrumental in the development of sports in our country and his heroic efforts to promote the Filipino athlete will always be our inspiration to try to walk the same path he did. Philippine sports will forever hold Moying dear in its heart.

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