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Cagers share Dalupan memories on coach’s 92nd birthday
by rick olivares
Virgilio “Baby" Dalupan celebrated his 92nd birthday last Tuesday night with a few dozen of his former players from across UE, Ateneo, Crispa, Great Taste, and Purefoods during a book launch about his life at the Ateneo Grade School, the coach’s alma mater.
During the program, a few of his former players or people who came across him shared anecdotes:
Noted sports anchor and former Ateneo cheerleader Sev Sarmenta: "After the 1976 NCAA Men’s Basketball title was secured, there was an impromptu bonfire held in front of the Loyola Center (today’s Blue Eagle Gym). At one point, the firewood was all gone and the flame was dying out. Suddenly, Coach Baby had an idea. ‘The small guardhouse,” he said! It was a small one that was made entirely out of wood and could be carried by two people. The bonfire kept going.
Former Blue Eagle Jeric Hechanova: “In that memorable 1983 game versus UE where we won 109-107 after I sank two free throws in the last second, Baby Dalupan went up to my dad (Cecil Hechanova who once played for Coach) and said, “Grabe, Cecil, I don’t even know how a team like Ateneo can bear my star-loaded UE team (with Allan Caidic and Jerry Codinera). They looked like grade school players compared to my players.”
Hechanova’s older brother, John Boy, played for Dalupan with the 1975 NCAA champions. During that game, Ateneo center Mike Facundo held his own against Codinera while Chot was slashing his way into the middle (his idol at that time according to Hechanova was Isiah Thomas).
That Blue Eagle team was composed of Chot Reyes, Mike Gayoso, Franco Sevilla, Frank Oreña, Vince Araneta, Jake Cuerva, Rey Rances, Jonel Labadan, Tino Estella, and Perry Martinez.
Robert Jaworski shared an anecdote about Coach Baby’s patience with his players. There was this unnamed teammate of theirs who after every attempt would shout, “Rebound!” After one point, Dalupan got mad. “Why do you keep taking jumpshots when you know it is not going in?”
That player continued to play for Dalupan in all his years at UE.
Alvin Patrimonio, who played for Dalupan in Purefoods when they won their first ever championship had this story to tell. “When Billy Ray Bates won a championship with Ginebra (after leading Crispa to two titles), ang sagot namin sa Purefoods, ‘You want a championship? Get Baby Dalupan to be your coach.’”
Dalupan won everywhere he coached. Building something out of nothing from UE to Ateneo to Crispa to Great Taste to Purefoods. “Coach was our secret weapon.”
And lastly, Vince Hizon, who played on the last team to be ever coached by Dalupan, the 1993 Ateneo Blue Eagles. “We had a team that wasn’t that tall. We beat La Salle for the first time in years in our very last game of the season. It was like we had won the championship. And it was Coach Baby’s last game ever. We saved the best for last."
“The Maestro of Philippine Basketball” is priced at P2,000 and the softcover version at P1,500. For direct selling, the prices are P1500 hard-cover; P1000 soft-cover.
For more information, please email CoachBabyDalupanBook@gmail.com