The oldest of the old guards-A A +A
Monday, March 28, 2011
T'WAS simply among the rarity of the oddest momentous occasion.
Could be the assembly of the rare birds of hard court warriors all throughout VizMin's basketball curia.
At least, to the so-called "Last of the Mohicans", or survivors cum living witnesses of the great decade of basketball in the old days.
To describe it thoroughly would make us hit non-stop in enumerating the blissful mites of the "once-in-a-lifetime chance" memorable encounter.
In stark contrast, could be just one of those ordinary birthday gatherings: shared by the celebrant with his circle of friends over some cold bottles of beer and yummy foods and, coupled with all sort of loose talks and a great deal of hearty laugh while making the sun and the moon dance from the skies.
Well, it’s always been like that: nothing new, nothing special, no significance or, say, unusual flavor in it.
Could be just another ordinary celebration.
Except that yesterday's 68th birthday celebration of coach Jun Noel had surprisingly gathered round the most unexpected group of well-wishers that even the legendary Crispa Redmanizers coach Virgilio "Baby" Dalupan would not spurn to envy in his twilight time.
Away from home, the Cebuano mentor of Misamis Oriental Meteors--who once guided the Negros Slashers into scaling an Azkal-like stratospheric height in the now extinct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) league--suddenly found his old family of basketball stars in Cagayan de Oro shore.
"I never thought event like this will happen. Not even in my wildest dream," said the cool as ice Jun Noel whose birthday bash by the sea was not even planned nor scheduled on time to fit for others' busy calendar.
However, as if it was destined to materialize, coach Jun was suddenly reunited with the spoiled brats of Cebu's old generation of basketball, spanning from the meteoric rise of the South Western Cobras to the resurgence of the University of Visayas (UV) Green Lancers.
It was on a breezy Sunday afternoon off Opol town's Lopez resort where a myriad of beautiful sights, including pretty ladies in their short skirts relaxing under the beach trees, appeared as like a cold bathe in our brain.
"Ania kita karon nagtipok-tipok ang karaan sa mga karaan nga basketbolista (We're now here gathering the oldest of the old guards)," Noel said with a laugh.
He eventually turned sentimental when his long-lost children treated him with lechon de leche and a special kinilaw prepared by the sweet-shooting Lazaro "Jun" Rosal Jr. And in an hour later, the supposedly elusive Cezar "Insik" Yu came back in the company of Jose "Boy" Sypiecco bringing another bowl of kinilaw and, to everyone's great delight, tagging along with them a mouth-watering grand piece of the exotic steamed turkey.
Now who would beat that for a supposedly very ordinary get-together.
"Coach Jun Noel is more than a family to us," declared Jun Rosal. "Even my immediate family could not say no when its coach Jun's birthday that I'd be going to," was his word.
Call him the "prodigal son" but coach Jun's hired gun Hermogenes "Hermes" Anciado, at the time when Mama's Love was still the ticking bomb in the tough Cebu commercial league, was also around to even more build up a heart-pinching drama.
"Timing kaayo imong pagbalik sa birthday ni coach Jun," said Anciado's namesake Hermogenes Bathan as Sandy "Andit" Mendoza quickly added: "Mora'g si Woodrow Balani na lang ang kulang sa mga maayong laki ini nga linya."
When coach Manny Diaz of Xavier University later turned up, the group did fancy to have the likes of Danny Lastimosa, Lito Bardago, Boy Dacoco and Rudy Salang, among the old chums, to catch up with them "for another round of reminiscence" before the day's end.
They might come or so busy enough to heed the call, I could only say as I went ahead of them to fulfill my daily obligation.
But since Anciado's former pointman at Corpus Christi School or considerably Noel's "basketball grandson" in Jimar Rivera--had also been around--as well as Ms. Jagna Hermyra B. Saguindan for a muse, one could tell the unexpected meeting of the former "Lord of the Rings" has still the right combination for a perfect old-laden basketball family to celebrate.
No ifs and buts, as one could say.
Just like in the movie, este, in the old days.
As comebacking son, "Hermes" said in his prayer for the forbearing father that binded as one...long life and more blessings to come coach Jun Noel.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 28, 2011.