Toyota players to gather for Fernandez’s 70th birthday, Arnaiz’s homecoming

It will be a double celebration this September 29, 2023 for former Toyota players, coaches and staff as they not only celebrate Ramon Fernandez’s 70th birthday but also the homecoming of superstar guard Francis Arnaiz.

This will be the fourth gathering of the Toyota alumni since February this year. The first get-together was to celebrate the team’s 50th golden anniversary. A follow-up gathering happened last March in a more intimate setup. 

The last one was held on April 28, made special by the attendance of the players from the team’s arch rivals, the Crispa Redmanizers. Atoy Co, Philip Cezar and Freddie Hubalde graciously accepted the invitation to be part of the festivities, a kickoff to a bigger and grander reunion this December featuring the various personalities of both legendary teams.

Fernandez, a four-time Most Valuable Player and considered by many as the GOAT of the league, will turn 70 on October 3. He’ll be flying from Cebu, his home base, to welcome his teammates for his birthday bash. 

Former Toyota players Emer Legaspi, Gil Cortez, and Francis Arnaiz and former coach Dante Silverio watched Gilas play against Italy. (Gil Cortez)

On the other hand, Arnaiz, who has lived in the United States for the past 37 years, recently came home and even saw the Gilas Pilipinas game against Italy at the Araneta Coliseum accompanied by coach Dante Silverio and teammates Gil Cortez and Emer Legaspi. The PBA’s “Mr. Clutch” will stay in Manila until December to be part of the planned grand Crispa-Toyota reunion.

Also expected to grace the affair are Pasig Vice Mayor Robert “Dodot” Jaworski, Jr., to represent his father. Also invited are PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and other league officials and a limited list of media personalities from TV5, ABS-CBN, PTV4, sports editors and scribes from leading newspapers and sports websites, broadcast anchors Sev Sarmenta, Bill Velasco and Chino Trinidad, and An Eternity of Basketball hosts – Charlie Cuna, Sid Ventura, Noel Zarate and this writer.

Guests are expected to enjoy the revelry with great food and wine while singing along with a live band in honor of their two fabled superstars.


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