Philippine basketball legend Danny Florencio passed away on Sunday. He was 70.
“Daredevil Danny” passed away in San Francisco, USA where he was based. This was confirmed by relatives and friends who requested anonymity.
Florencio was a star player for the University of Santo Tomas and figured in memorable battles with Robert Jaworski and the University of the East Warriors coached by Baby Dalupan. Later on, the two would team up with the YCO Painters in the old MICAA as well as the national team.
But it was in the 1967 Asian Basketball Championship where Florencio, then playing for the national team, shone.
Coached by Caloy Loyzaga, Florencio was hardly used during the event, but was inserted in the most crucial stage of the most important game of the tournament against Korea.
There, Florencio scored the most important baskets – the last four points — that propelled the Filipinos in winning the gold medal game against Korea, 83-80, to cap the Philippines’ perfect campaign.
Both the Philippines and Korea entered the game with identical 8-0 slates.
During a visit in the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League at the Marikina Sports Complex way back, Florencio recounted those days.
“Nagulat nga ako eh, kasi talagang hindi ako ginagamit ni Caloy, tapos nabasa ko na lang sa mga newspapers, sinabi niya na ako daw yung surprise package niya,” Florencio said. “Siyempre, excited ako nung pinasok and dahil frustrated nga ako na hindi nakakapaglaro, ibinuhos ko na doon sa pinakaimportanteng game against Korea.”
Florencio also became a member of the champion teams of the Toyota Tamaraws where he won multiple championships with the squad, including the 1981 Open Conference title, the last titular showdown between archrivals Toyota and Crispa.
But it was with Crispa where Florencio enjoyed his best playing days.
Before Bogs Adornado, Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Freddie Hubalde and Abet Guidaben, Crispa was led in the old MICAA by Florencio, Adriano Papa and Boy Kutch.
The three players were the stars of the franchise and they won multiple championships for two years, until the controversy happened in 1973 when they were involved in the game-fixing scandal.
“These three players were replaced by Atoy, Freddie, Abet and Philip. Bogs was still a rookie at that time but emerged as the top scorer when Florencio, Papa and Kutch left Crispa,” said Jay Mercado, a basketball historian.
“But Florencio and Kutch joined Larry Mumar and Boy Mora in U-Tex in the PBA and formed a four-headed monster for the Wranglers.”