Ando’s recollections

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

In yesterdays column, Ateneo Sports Hall of Famer Ando Hernaez recounted his experience playing for an all-Filipino basketball team against the visiting Harlem Globetrotters in Bacolod City in 1953. Hernaez shared other interesting memories, particularly about Olympians Paeng Hechanova and Manolet Araneta.

Im now 84 and Ive witnessed basketball from the NBA to PBA to UAAP,” said Hernaez. “I had the pleasure of playing for Ateneo in college and played with Ed Ocampo when we won the 1957-58 NCAA championship. After college, I had the privilege of playing for Crispa under coach Baby Dalupan in the MICAA. I can only thank the Lord since most of my teammates are gone.”

Hernaez singled out Hechanova and Araneta as two players whom he had personal knowledge of their backgrounds. “Paeng used to play for San Agustin College in Iloilo and their captain was former Bishop of Infanta, Julio Labayen,” he said. “Paengs other prominent teammate was Pons Saldana who went to San Beda. Paeng took up architecture and made a name for himself while playing for UST. In 1951, he was captain of the Philippine team that beat Taiwan for the Asian championship. The Philippine Sportswriters Association awarded him the title of Mr. Basketball that year. His finished his basketball career playing for YCO.”

In 1952, Hechanova was on the Philippine team that competed in the Helsinki Olympics. His teammates were Florentino Bautista, Ramoncito Campos, Tony Genato, Jose Gochangco, Eddie Lim, Caloy Loyzaga, Pocholo Martinez, Saldana, Meliton Santos, Antonio Tantay and Nano Tolentino. The squad got off to a hot start, beating Israel, 57-47 and Hungary, 48-35 then lost to Argentina, 85-59 and Brazil, 71-52 before upending Canada, 81-65 to finish ninth. The Olympianscoach was Fely Fajardo.

Hernaez mentioned that Araneta played on the Philippine team that saw action in the 1948 London Olympics. “Fresh from their National Open championship which La Salle won, Manolet, known as Mr. Twinkle Toes and Tito Eduque would dribble the ball up to the end of the game since there was no time limit for possession then,” he continued. The late Araneta was the father of the First Lady Lisa Marcos. Hernaez said he will always be grateful to Araneta for enlisting him as a high school player to join the all-Filipino selection that went up against the Trotters in 1953. Araneta was designated as the playing coach of the team by his uncle Don Amado Araneta who brought Harlem to Bacolod.

Aranetas Olympic teammates were Campos, Eddie Decena, Andres de la Cruz, Fely and Gabby Fajardo, Ding Fulgencio, Primitivo Martinez, Bay Mumar and Francisco Vestil. Coach was Chito Calvo, the only Filipino so far inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. The Philippines beat Iraq, 102-30 and South Korea, 35-33 then lost to Chile, 68-39, defeated China, 51-32, lost to Belgium, 37-35, upset Argentina, 45-43 and lost to Peru, 40-29 and Belgium, 38-34 to finish 12th of 23.

Araneta earned a commerce degree at La Salle and took up an agricultural course at UP Los Baños. When he worked at a sugar central in Murcia, Araneta found time to coach a team of teenagers and took the players all over Negros Occidental to face all comers. The late Col. Julian Malonso of Letran said Mr. Twinkle Toes was a master of the running shot. They were adversaries in college. Malonso said Araneta was known for his hang time as the spindly guard could suspend himself in mid-air for a few seconds before releasing a shot. Araneta passed away in 2003 at 76. Hechanova died last year at 93.

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