Sports Eye

Pangasinan’s PBA player, Orly Bauzon, 75

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

AFTERNOON of September 6 when I read in Facebook that the former Olympian and ex-PBA player, our kabaleyan Orlando Bauzon met his untimely death due to cardiac arrest, late night of September 5. My first reaction was it could be another fake news, so I immediately texted my cumpadre, the former head coach of University of Pangasinan men’s basketball team Angel Gumarang to verify the story because he was one of basketball coaching students of Bauzon. And he confirmed that the report was true, that the Calasiao-born and former PBA pioneer Bauzon succumbed to his second heart attack (the first one was mild) at age 75.

Our province just lost our very first PBA player and Olympic veteran. Orly represented our country in 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation (when 6’3” guard Bauzon was one of the key factors why the Philippines defeated South Korea in the finals to win the gold as well as the 1970 Asian Games) and the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games (when the Philippines landed 13th overall out of 32 teams).

My friendship with him started when he was the third head coach of the Pangasinan Presidents/Waves professional basketball squad in the short-lived Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), and I was the commissioner of the Tim Orbos-owned Pangasinan squad.

I started to admire the guy even during his amateur heydays in the Manila Inter-Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) basketball league. I always watched him play on TV. In fact, it was reported that many commercial companies tried to woo him with higher salary but chose to join the Ysmael Steel. Then he joined Meralco, Mariwasa Honda, and Toyota, all of whom won national crowns. His most memorable was his stint with Toyota during the time of Dante Silverio as their head coach, when he helped Toyota Comets earn championships for three years with his long-shots beyond the arc and suffocating defense. With him in those years were the well-known Robert Jaworski, Jimmy Mariano, Adriano Papa, Jr., Alfonso Marquez, Danny Florencio, Rogelio Melencio, Ramon Fernandez, Alberto Reynoso, Renato Reyes, Ed Ocampo, Elias Tolentino, Gil Cortez and Jake Rojas.

Married to Philippine Sports Commissioner Josie Bauzon, the first female czar to lead the PSC, Calasiao’s pride Bauzon hung his shoes as a player in 1978 at the early age of 34 years old to try his hand in basketball coaching. His first coaching job was with his alma mater the University of Santo Tomas, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season 51 in 1988, then steered Adamson University in season 55 in 1992 that propelled Adamson to the finals. He moved to the University of the Philippines in 1995, and finally the Pangasinan Presidents/Waves, his first and only professional mentorship stint in life.

Yes, he’s gone for good, but his memory and legacy in the province will never be forgotten as the first PBA player that our province produced and the second basketball Olympian (after the late Sen. Ambrosio Padilla, Jr. of Lingayen who became a member of the Philippine national squad during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in Germany).

Rest in peace, my co-athlete and provincemate, Orly. My heartfelt condolences to the family.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 TIMOTHY: 4: 7

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