They came out in full force.
Past and present stars of Ginebra were on hand to pay their tribute to the Living Legend Robert Jaworski, whose fabled No. 7 jersey was retired on Sunday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Past Ginebra stars Leo Isaac, Romulo Mamaril, Bal David, Marlou Aquino, Noli Locsin, Vince Hizon, Pido Jarencio and Sonny Cabatu, all the way to the present crop of Gin Kings led by Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Rudy Hatfield joined more than 15,000 in attendance to shower Jaworski with love and cheers.
In return, Jaworski reiterated his never-say-die message.
“Sa buhay, gaya ng basketball, hindi tayo dapat mawalan ng pag-asa,” said Jaworski in a speech. “You have to dream. Dare to fail, but commit to reach you goal. Yan yung never say die.”
Jaworski reiterated that he’s not leaving the sport despite the fact that his jersey has been retired.
“I may be retiring my jersey, but my passion for the sport and the people will remain forever,” said Jaworski.
Even coaches and current players from other teams showed their respect for Jaworski.
“How I wish we played during the time of the Big J’s jersey ceremony. We had our great battles before and it would be an honor if we played on the same day he’s retiring his jersey. It was planned to be held during our game against Ginebra, but it was reset to another date,” said B-MEG coach Tim Cone.
Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes, who also had his share of battles against Jaworski, also paid tribute.
“Jawo’s passion no doubt has ignited the competitive fire in all of us current and aspiring Pinoy coaches. Yes, even to the point of battling refs,” posted Reyes on his Twitter account.
Paul Artadi brought up an ideal marketing plan that will forever put Jaworski attached to Ginebra.
“Dapat ilagay si Jawo sa bote ng Ginebra para hindi siya mawala sa isip ng sambayanang Pilipino,” posted Artadi on his Twitter account.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud, whose father, former commissioner Rodrigo Salud was the founding legal counsel of the league, thanked Jaworski for all the things he has done for the pro league and for basketball in general.
“How can we thank you for all the great things you’ve done to the PBA. Your great battles with Crispa Redmanizers, El Presidente Mon Fernandez, The Captain Alvin Patrimonio all the way to the time of Benje Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc. Your never-say-die attitude. You were the last player to leave to sign autographs for your fans, these are the foundations you helped build for the PBA,” said Salud.