Philippine basketball

Former champion PBA player Dong Polistico dies

Lynde Salgados
Former champion PBA player Dong Polistico dies


At 6-foot-7, Dong Polistico was one of the tallest centers in the PBA in the ’90s and won championships with Alaska and San Miguel

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Former PBA player Adriano “Dong” Polistico died on Wednesday, August 10, after suffering a heart attack at his hometown in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental. He was 55. 

At 6-foot-7, Polistico was one of the tallest centers in the PBA in the late 1990s where he made a name as an enforcer, the one tasked to defend against the other team’s best frontliners. 

“He just passed away this morning due to heart attack. He already stopped drinking hard for a while to follow his doctor’s advice as he already suffered from arthritis,” Polistico’s older sister Laura told Rappler.

Polistico, who won championships with Alaska (1991) and San Miguel (1993, 1994), played 433 games in the PBA and averaged 3.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. 

He donned the national colors in the 1994 Asian Game as fans also easily appreciated his bruising defense.

A former Letran player who was selected fourth overall by Alaska in the 1988 PBA Rookie Draft, Polistico played nine seasons in the league.

But even in retirement, his love for basketball was always there, which he passionately shared with his townmates in Davao Oriental.

Some weeks ago, Polistico even went to the extent of training, mentoring, and steering the Barangay Tiblawan team to a third-place finish in the Gov-Gen Inter-Barangay Summer League 2022.

“At his age, training and coaching basketball is already a tiring routine. The late night games and gatherings may have taken its toll on him,” said his longtime friend Nick Jabagat, who once played for San Beda College.

“Kuya Dong was such a kind basketball fellow, he saved us from getting hungry during our college days in Manila when he’s already thriving then in the big league,” remembered the now US-based Jamewill Abucejo from San Sebastian College.

Basketball-loving Mindanaoans mourned Polistico’s untimely death as he also endeared himself to legions of basketball fans in Cagayan de Oro.

“Obviously, he’s quiet yet natural, he’s always welcome during his short stint in Cagayan de Oro. We will be missing him,” said Arnel Baba, former president of the Green CdeO Eagles Club.

“Among the PBA players who considered Cagayan de Oro as their second home, Dong was clearly our favorite adopted son,” said Conrado Gomez, the former governor of NMR-1 Eagles turned city councilor of Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.

“We’re deeply saddened by his sudden death.” – 

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