Philippine basketball

Late PBA team manager Elmer Yanga remembered for being fair, father figure

Delfin Dioquino

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Late PBA team manager Elmer Yanga remembered for being fair, father figure

REVERED. Team manager Elmer Yanga (second to left, bottom row) with the Pop Cola team.

Nic Belasco Facebook page

‘He was very close to the team and the players were very close to him,’ says coach Yeng Guiao following the death of Elmer Yanga, the former PBA team manager of RFM teams like Swift, Sunkist, Sarsi, and Pop Cola

MANILA, Philippines – Those who knew longtime PBA executive Elmer Yanga remember him as someone who treated everyone fairly and took care of the people around him.

The likes of Yeng Guiao and Nic Belasco paid tribute to Yanga after the former team manager and alternate governor of the RFM Corporation franchise died at the age of 78 on Wednesday, May 1, due to a lingering illness.

Guiao said he learned the ropes from Yanga as he started his PBA coaching career when the RFM Corporation joined the league in 1990 as the Pop Cola Sizzlers.

“He was very religious, very ethical, and very professional. He treated everybody fairly,” Guiao said of Yanga in a mix of Filipino and English.

“Although he had other responsibilities in the company, I think he enjoyed being team manager the most. He was very close to the team and the players were very close to him. They were like sons to him.”

“I think what is exceptional about him is that he built really good relationships with the players.”

One of those players is Belasco, who got picked second overall by the franchise owned by businessman Joey Concepcion in the 1997 PBA Draft.

“Thank you for taking care of us all in our first years in the PBA. You treated us like family and always took care of current and former players,” Belasco wrote in a Facebook post.

Yanga won the first three Executive of the Year awards given by the PBA Press Corps from 1993 to 1995 as the franchise quickly turned into a perennial contender.

Then known as Sarsi, the team reached the finals for the first time in just its second season in 1991 then won a pair of championships in 1992 and 1993 as Swift.

Spearheaded by MVP Vergel Meneses, the team enjoyed its best campaign in the PBA in 1995 when Sunkist almost completed a rare Grand Slam, winning the first two championships of the season.

RFM Corporation sold its franchise in 2001.

Guiao said while the death of Yanga is a sad event, his life is something to be celebrated.

“He lived a good life,” said Guiao. “It is sad that he is gone, but if you look back at his life, you could not ask for anything more.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.