MANILA, Philippines – Legendary coach Virgilio "Baby" Dalupan already passed on, but he will never be forgotten in the world of Philippine basketball.
Some of the PBA's great players who had the privilege of playing for "The Maestro" fondly remembered the good times with Dalupan, just after the PBA honored him with one final buzzer on Sunday, August 21 at the Smart Araneta Colisuem.
Atoy Co, who played under Dalupan from 1972 to 1982 with famed PBA team Crispa Redmanizers, recalled the very first time Dalupan admonished him.
The 64-year-old Co, currently the head coach of Mapua in the NCAA, thought back to a game when he and teammate Bernie Fabiosa got into a squabble as Co claimed Fabiosa refused to pass him the ball. The two players proceeded to throwing the ball at each other and by halftime, Co received an earful from his coach.
"First time ‘kong namura. ‘Ano ‘yang pinaggagagawa niyong kalokohan?! P******** naman Atoy!’ Ganoon," Co shared, chuckling at the memory.
(That was the first time he cursed me. 'What do you think you're doing?! M*********** Atoy!' Like that.)
"I will not forget that because that was the first time na napagalitan talaga niya ako, namura niya ako. ‘Yun ang lagi nakatatak sa isipan ko (that he got mad at me, he cursed me. I always remember that)."
Co described his relationship with Dalupan as father and son, much like many of the other players who went through the multi-titled.
"More of a father and son especially during the Crispa days. The Crispa team was ran as a family," Co said.
Dalupan won 9 titles with Crispa and another 6 PBA championships later on.
"As a father, as a mentor, a friend. You can also talk (to him) na biruan (like you're joking)," he added. "And that’s why (we’re) sad, we will miss him."
Allan Caidic was another player molded by Dalupan. The left-handed marksman credits his entire basketball career to Dalupan, who spotted Caidic during tryouts at the University of the East in 1981 after he had already tried out in 3 colleges prior. Dalupan was athletic director for the school at the time.
"He stepped in at practice one day and of course we were all excited so we showed our best to impress him and the coaches," Caidic shared in Filipino. "After practice he left. I found out later that he instructed the coach: "Kunin mo 'yang kaliwete na 'yan. Mapapakinabangan (Take that lefty. He'll be useful)."
Caidic went on to become one of the most lethal shooters in the UAAP, going toe-to-toe in shootouts against University of Santo Tomas' Pido Jarencio.
Dalupan, who won a 7-peat with UE from 1965 to 1972, later had a hand in drafting Caidic in the PBA.
"When I got drafted in 1987, he served as the instrument for me to go to Great Taste," said Caidic. "They had the last pick. He made a way so I will end up at Great Taste. For me, his effort to get me was a big deal."
Caidic said he's greatest lesson from Dalupan is discipline.
"He's really a disciplinarian. He wants us to go to school, focus on our studies. And when it's time for basketball, it should be basketball," he shared.
"At Great Taste I realized coach is okay after all, because we were so scared of him before. That's what he instilled in me. When I became afraid of him, I became disciplined enough to follow him. And that's what coaches do. I realized that after I began coaching as well. Coach Baby was doing the right thing."
League commissioner Chito Narvasa as well as Star Hotshots assistant Alvin Patrimonio also led the final buzzer tribute for Dalupan.
"Nag-iisa lang si coach Baby," said Patrimonio, who played for Dalupan from from 1989 to 1991 with Purefoods. "Mahal na mahal namin si coach kaya malaking pasasalamat ang Purefoods franchise sa kanya."
(Coach Baby is one of a kind. We love him very much that's why the Purefoods franchise is very thankful for him.)
Dalupan, whose remains currently lie at the Chapel of the Immaculate Concepcion inside Ateneo de Manila University – his school from elementary to college, will be interred on Wednesday, August 24 after a private funeral mass. – Rappler.com