WHILE being absent for about 10 years, the country’s living basketball legend Robert “Jawo” Jaworski may soon make his return to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as a coach for the Air21 Express.
In a report on the PBA Web site yesterday, Air21 chairman Bert Lina and president Lito Alvarez seek to meet with Jaworski on Wednesday to finalize the deal.
“We’ve long been talking at medyo malayo na ang narating ng usapan. Kaya sa Wednesday, kasama na ang aming chairman sa meeting,” Alvarez said.
He said that while he cannot preempt Jaworski, “what I can say is that we have a major story to announce next week.”
But Alvarez admitted he is worried that Jaworski may be lured away to a government post, following the resignations of heads of government offices and corporations.
“That’s my worry … He may be offered to replace any of them,” said Alvarez.
But Alvarez said they are hopeful they can reach an agreement soon so they can start training by Aug. 1.
“I really want Coach Jawo to handle the team. Hindi na rin naman siguro nakakahiyang ipahawak sa kanya ang lineup naming,” he said.
Air21’s star players include athletic guard Gary David, Arwind Santos, Niño Canaleta, and Ranidel de Ocampo.
The PBA Web site story said negotiations between Air21 and Jaworski had been going on for several months already, but were shelved when he supported son Robert Jr.’s failed bid for Pasig City mayor.
For his part, coach Dolreich “Bo” Perasol reiterated he is ready to slide down to assistant coach in favor of Jaworski.
“Just to sit beside him on our bench would be a big honor for me,” Perasol said.
Jaworski, now 61, was one of the PBA’s pioneers in 1975. He won over PBA fans with his rugged and never-say-die brand of play. He was named one of the PBA’s 25 greatest players of all time.
He won his last championship for the Barangay Ginebra team, then known as Gordon’s Gin, in 1997. He went into “semi-retirement” in 1998 after winning a senatorial seat.
Jaworski, whose last game was in 1997, also holds the distinction of being the oldest player to ever play in the PBA, at age 50.