WE lost not only a basketball legend in Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan but also a man of impeccable integrity.
Baby was called the “Maestro” (Teacher/Master) for his uncanny ability to steer his team out of so-called rough waters during the tightest of situations in a basketball game.
Many a time did Baby win games of import, not to mention numerous championship battles even amid the beckoning of the lengthening shadows.
And yet, Baby, who bade farewell on Wednesday (17 August) at age 92, never found any use for coaching manuals in his entire basketball career that spanned generations.
Beginning his mentoring ways at the University of the East, he wracked up a total of 12 UAAP titles—still a record to this day in all of university basketball wars nationwide.
In the PBA, where Baby was part of the league’s birth in 1975 as coach of the fabled Crispa Redmanizers, he plucked the first ever Grand Slam by piloting Crispa past its arch-rival Toyota in 1976.
He would proceed to collect a total of 15 PBA titles, a record that stood for decades and was broken only a while back by Tim Cone.
And, in surpassing Baby’s mark, Cone even paid tribute to Dalupan, calling him “my idol for all seasons.”
There’s a bit of irony there because while Cone clings to textbook coaching—-he has been the country’s most avid student of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense—Baby dreaded bookish coaching.
Baby was the exponent of situational coaching, a style copied—to much success—by the likes of Turo Valenzona and Robert Jaworski himself.
Baby’s ways would always depend on game situations, particularly on match-ups and on how the enemy would unfurl a gameplan. In short, it is the foe’s strategy and tactics that Baby would usually use to maneuver his way to victory.
And he was so extremely honest that he hated to the max players he felt were into game-fixing.
I’ve seen him deal with players on the take: He’d dispatch them to the game with unlimited playing time just to expose their nefarious activities to the public.
Legend also has it that while the late Danny Floro spoiled the Redmanizers, Baby cracked the whip of discipline. Thus, with Baby’s passing, the fabled “The Partnership” in Philippine basketball is now history.
May Dear God wed them again Up There.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 20, 2016.
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