MANILA, Philippines - His legend was revisited and his tale retold as Philippine cage icon Robert Jaworski’s jersey – Ginebra jersey No. 7 – was retired in a well-attended, elaborate ceremony at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Jaworski, 66, shed tears of great joy and deep gratitude even as he insisted only his jersey was retired as his passion and love for the game will forever remain.
The well-loved sportsman, a 13-time PBA champion who has gone to public service as a senator, said he still “has a mission” but didn’t elaborate.
Jaworski delivered a 22-minute speech in the one-and-a-half-hour rites, highlighting it by underscoring the importance of the never-say-die spirit in any endeavor.
“We must remember the essentials to one’s success – be humble in victory, be gracious in defeat. Defeat is temporary kahit ano ka man (whatever you are). The important is dare reach a goal. Sooner or later, you’ll get it. That’s never-say-die,” said Jaworski to the thunderous approval of his diehards that filled the venue.
Jaworski, whose name became synonymous to the “never-say-die” phrase during his long playing years, also egged on everybody to teach the youth good values, saying honesty, unity and others will help the country go along way.
“Going with honesty is hope. Let us (encourage) everyone to have hopes in life,” said Jaworski, grateful to the Almighty, above everyone else, for all the successes and greatness he achieved from his humble beginnings as a Baguio native.
He expressed gratitude to all those who helped him along the way from his very first coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan, first team University of the East, club teams, teammates, rivals, the fans, the media and several individuals.
He made special mention of the late Fernando Poe Jr. and former President Joseph Estrada whom he considered “true-blooded players and fans.”
Marlou Aquino, Bal David, Noli Locsin, Pido Jarencio, Sonny Cabatu, Wilmer Ong, Romulo Mamaril, Vince Hizon and Leo Isaac were among his Ginebra players present as Jaworski was accorded the great honor of having his jersey retired.
Others whose jerseys have been retired are Bogs Adornado, Jojo Lastimosa, Johnny Abarrientos and Bong Hawkins by Alaska, Alvin Patrimonio by Purefoods, Benjie Paras by Shell and Kenneth Duremdes by Coke.
The current Ginebra team, at one time, joined the Ginebra oldies at center court, vowing to continue Jaworski’s legend and legacy.
Jaworski, meanwhile, promised that he would stick around and continue to learn the game.