Oro basketball community welcomes ‘gentle giant’ Polistico

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Friday, July 18, 2014


HE’S just one of the former PBA greats who either hail or have set foot in the City of Golden Friendship by chance or coincidence. But among the few of them, the 6-foot-7 behemoth Adriano “Dong” Polistico seemed to be the most endeared by the legions of basketball fans in Cagayan de Oro.

“He’s tough but gentle. Obviously shy, quiet, reserved yet natural. He can be the Ambassador of Goodwill in sports for Cagayan de Oro,” said Engr. Arnel Baba, vice president of the Green CdeO Eagles Club.

Club president Anjun “Con-Air” Gomez also welcomes Polistico with open arms.

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“Among the PBA players who considered Cagayan de Oro as their second home, Dong is clearly our favorite adopted son. And for that, ready na para sa iya ang membership form sa Green CdeO Eagles,” Gomez said.

To his circle of friends in Cagayan de Oro, Dong is like a love song from long ago that keeps coming back. And in his recent comeback stint, over a hundred of kids at a private school here swarmed him for autographs and picture-taking.

Accompanied by bosom buddy James Abucejo and this writer, Polistico was greatly surprised upon seeing his name in tarpaulin while entering the premises of Summer Hill School Foundation Inc. in Barangay Patag. The Voice Kids contestant Nikole Kyle Bernido also rendered a song for him in a simple program prepared by school director Lettie Mae S. Damasing.

“We’re planning to upgrade our sports program and try to form a varsity team for any inter-school competition in the city. And so our invitation for Mr. Polistico to come with us,” Damasing told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

Thrice awarded as Best Defensive Player in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Polistico also graced the just-held basketball clinic up at Xavier Sports and Country Club and the one still ongoing at Barangay Bulua gym under the lookout of Bulua SK chair PJ “Barangay Guwapo” Pagalan and coach Oca Abucejo.

“Wala pa natawo kining mga bataa pagsikat ni Dong sa una. But all the same, the children were simply awed by his huge frame,” observed Bulua basketball consultant Bobby Diaz, himself a many-time MVP in local cage front.

Looking back, Polistico shared there was a time in the PBA under the wings of two-time Grandslam winner coach Tim Cone that he could dictate how long he would stay on the floor during the games.

“Sa una makabuot pa sa playing time. Pero karon igo na lang `ta sa tan-aw,” said Dong in good-natured ribbing with friends while watching the PBA Finals on TV between San Mig Coffe Mixers and Talk `n Text.

And erstwhile San Beda stalwart Nick Jabagat could only agree.

“Kuyaw gyod si Dong sa una sa low-post. Mahadlok pud ka’g sulod sa iyang depensa kay mahibalo sab. He’s one of the most respected basketball centers even during the MBA League nga nakadula nako siya,” Jabagat recalled.

Already past his prime, big smiling Dong Polistico has these few words of advice to young and budding PBA-wannabes in the city: “Suwerte-suwerte sab `ning basketball mao nga importante gyod humanon ang pag-eskwela. Always study hard and stay away from drugs.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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