Ni Ernest Hernandez
HINDI na aktibo si dating playing/coach Robert “The Big J” Jaworski, ngunit nananatili pa rin ang aura ng isang iconic basketball player at ang mahika na nagbigay sa Barangay Ginebra nang walang katumbas na tagumpay sa PBA.
Sa isa pang pagkakataon, nagdiwang ang barangay sa panalo ng Ginebra San Miguel Kings kontra sa Talk ‘N Text Katropa para makausad sa PBA Governors Cup Finals.
At bago makumpleto ng Kings ang 3-1 dominasyon sa Katropa, isang pamilyar na kapuso ang dumating sa locker room para magbigay ng paalala at lakas ng loob – ang tinaguriang ‘living legend’.
Matapos ang pakikipag-usap kay Jaworski, kakaibang gilas ang ipinamalas ng Ginebra sa second half kung saan umabante sila sa pinakamalaking 12 puntos tungo sa 115-105 panalo.
Balik sa Finals ang Ginebra at haharapin nila ang Meralco Bolts na sinasandigan ng matikas ding import.
“Well, obviously the other group was aggressive on offense and because of their aggressiveness, the challenge was not responded with the right move and they were tentative in their offense,” pahayag ni Jaworski.
“Hey, the other team shot 8 three-pointers unopposed. There is something wrong there. There are also lapses in the defense where there are guys underneath and they are free,” aniya.
Iginiit din ni Jaworski na lubhang na-pressure ang Kings at walang nagnanais na maging lider sa opensa. Kagyat niyang ipinaalala ang walang kamatayang ‘never-say-die ’ mantra ng Ginebra.
“I just reminded them the few basics of basketball that they were very tentative in their offense. They passed the ball to one another without anyone wanting to take the shot,” sambit ni Jaworski. “It is all probably the pressure of the game that usually comes if you are either thinking you are leading, understanding and just forgetting about the basics that they have to do.”
Sa pagkakataong, buhay na naman ang kilig ng barangay, inamin ni Jaworski na magbabalik siya para saksihan ang muling pagtangan sa kampeonato ng Kings.
“I’ll tell you something, in basketball, or in anything – talking too much doesn’t really serve a purpose. What is important is making your legs, your arms, your heart, and your mind work together. The team that wants this championship can win it. But of course, I will be rooting for Ginebra,” aniya.
Maging si coach Tim Cone ay namamalik-mata sa tanawing kabilang si Jaworski sa nagpapalakas ng loob ng Kings.
“Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said Sonny Jaworski is outside. I said bring him in and we could use all the help we can get and he gave a speech that was really cool,” pahayag ni Cone.
“I felt like I was a player again listening to him. It was nice. Without a doubt, it helped. I don’t want to overshadow the whole game. He came in and with a four-five minute speech and the players were clapping every 20 seconds.”
Tila mahika ang presensiya ni Jaworski at nagigising niya ang natutulog na damdamin at determinasyon ng players. Mula noon, hanggang ngayon matindi ang mahika ni Jawo.
“He did that to us a couple of times. He helped us spring us on through bad halftimes and make us play well in the second half,” sambit ni Cone. “He knows what he is talking about.”
May mahika nga ba o sadyang suwerte lamang si Jaworski?
“Meron ako nun, o? Nakita mo ba ‘yan? ‘Yan, tignan mo?” paanyaya ni Jaworski sa mga nagtatanong na reporter na tignan ang kanyang palad. “Hindi ko na sasabihin sa iyo iyan. Hayan o, star!”