It will be a smorgasbord of former players, media personalities, team followers and friends as the Toyota basketball team celebrates its 50th anniversary with a grand homecoming party on Saturday, February 18, in Makati City.
Lead organizer Gil Cortez, relayed to The Rivalry that at least 15 former Toyota players from 1973 to 1983 led by four-time PBA MVP Ramon Fernandez will be gracing the affair. Three players based overseas – Coach Nat Canson, who also served as coach for Gold Eagle, Hills Bros and Sta. Lucia, Joseph Galonga and Roberto Concepcion – will be flying home to attend this 70’s inspired occasion.
Cortez, the 1976 PBA Rookie of the Year, is also hopeful and waiting the confirmation of four other players based in the United States – Francis Arnaiz, Rino Salazar, Ricky Relosa, and import Andy Fields – if they would be able to join them this Saturday. Of course, Coach Dante Silverio, who’s also one of the lead organizers, will likewise be there to renew nostalgia with his players and colleagues.
Cortez has also extended an invitation to Pasig Vice Mayor Robert “Dodot” Jaworski, Jr. to attend on behalf of his dad, Robert, Sr. It was reported by the Jaworski family last year that the Big J is battling a rare blood disorder disease and is unlikely to come. The young Jaworski has committed to attend the affair, perhaps along with his brother, Ron Michael.
Robert Uy, the President of the Toyota Dealers Association of the Philippines and part of the Samahan Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), is also expected. Former PDP-Laban Secretary General Joey De Venecia, a long-standing Toyota follower who, at 13 years old, was the only fortunate soul to ride with the team on their bus going to the venue, will also be coming.
Other invited guests are the scions of players Big Boy Reynoso, his younger brother Tino and Orly Bauzon who’ll represent their respective fathers. Cortez promised a short video tribute will be given to the various team personalities who have already passed on during the program.
Cortez has also invited several media personalities, past and present, to attend. Notable writers from the 70’s and 80’s like Recah Trinidad, Chino Trinidad, Al Mendoza, Eddie Alinea, Tessa Jazmines, Rhea Navarro, Lito Tacujan, Dodo Catacutan, Nelson Beltran, Bill Velasco, Brian Yalung and Quinito Henson were included in the guest list. Joining these veteran writers are various sports editors of broadsheets like Tito Talao and Francis Ochoa as well as Rick Olivares and hosts of the online sports program, “An Eternity of Basketball” and The Rivalry writers Sid Ventura, Noel Zarate, Charlie Cuna and this writer.
The event will be hosted by esteemed PBA sports broadcasters Cuna and Sev Sarmenta.