MANILA, Philippines – Former PBA player Joey Mente may have lost his battle with lung cancer but he will be fondly remembered as an undersized high flyer with a jolly personality.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said Mente, who passed away on Wednesday, August 22, had always been fun to be with. Mente was 42.
"Nakakalungkot kasi masayahing tao 'yun eh. 'Pag nakakasama namin sa game [na] out of town, mahilig kumanta, masayahing tao. Nakakalungkot sinapit niya ganoong kalagayan," Marcial told reporters.
(It's sad because he was a happy person. When we were together in out-of-town games, he has a knack for singing. It's sad that he suffered.)
A seven-year PBA pro, Mente was given tribute by the league on Wednesday night with a moment of silence and a final buzzer before the NLEX-Magnolia game at the Araneta Coliseum.
At 5-foot-9, he amazed fans with his flare and jumping ability en route to winning the 2001 Slam Dunk title.
He won two PBA championships with San Miguel – the 2001 All-Filipino and the 2005 Fiesta – and was a pioneer for Rain or Shine, which was previously known as Welcoat.
Former Welcoat teammate Joe Devance took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Mente's passing.
Joey Mente was all heart and passion on the court. One of my first teammates. Great person. RIP MENTE — joe devance (@jdv_38) August 22, 2018
He ended his career with averages of 4.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. – Rappler.com
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.