Ernesto Estrada, 1970s PBA star, dies at 65
MANILA, Philippines - Ernesto Estrada, one of the best Filipino basketball players of the 1970s, died on Saturday at the age of 65 (Sunday in Manila) in Los Angeles.
The 5-foot-11 Estrada, feared for his outside shooting and drives to the hoop, died of a heart attack, said fellow cage legend Manny Paner in a phone interview with Rappler.com.
"It was his third or fourth (heart attack). I was informed by Mon Fernandez who got the news from Abe King who is in the US," said Paner of his former college and San Miguel Corp. teammate.
Not only did Estrada make headlines due to his basketball skill but also in the movie pages where his girlfriend for some time in the 1970s was actress Rosemarie Gil followed by singer Norma Ledesma.
Estrada was deadly from outside 20 feet but he had an excellent perimeter game where he would drive to the hoop, as if suspended in mid-air, said Fernandez.
He could shoot without being screened, added Paner.
Fernandez, who played with Estrada in San Miguel and Toyota, said in a Facebook message: "Estrada was very athletic. He was literally walking on air."
According to basketball statistician Henry Liao, Estrada was number three with 19.7 points per game in 289 games for eight seasons in the Philippine Basketball Association on the all-time local scoring list after Ricardo Brown (23.1) and Bogs Adornado (20.1).
Estrada played for Royal Tru-Orange, Toyota, Great Taste and Galerie Dominique during a career that lasted from 1975-1982.
Estrada, together with Paner and shooter Willie Velasco, won the 1969 Intercollegiate tournament in Manila. The bull-shouldered Paner, one of the top centers that time, was named to the 1972 Olympic squad, the last Philippine team to do so, but not Estrada.
When Estrada began gaining weight, he gained more fans because of his steady shooting from 20 feet. Sometimes when he would meet a pass and drive to the hoop, he could still shoot off imports.
"Estrada was playing very well. He should have been given a chance by the Basketball Association of the Philippines," said Paner. - Rappler.com
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