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Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Robert Jaworski Legend

I originally posted this in mypba.com on December 12, 2004.

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Ever wondered why Robert Jaworski became a legendary icon in the eyes of many a PBA fan? Here's one reason:

It was a semifinals game between Ginebra and guest team Northern Consolidated Cement powered by 3 reinforcements, Jeff Moore, Dennis Still and Arthur Engelland. Ginebra, on the other hand, was backstopped by import Michael Hackett. The game was seen by a sellout crowd at the ULTRA and


viewed by thousands at home.

With NCC ahead from the opening tipoff, Ginebra couldn't break the dominance and resolute defense of Ron Jacobs' charges. Jaworski enters the court as usual at the start of the second canto with the hope of re-establishing control of Ginebra's sputtering game. Middle of the second quarter, Jaworski was battling for a loose ball recovery when Moore accidentally hit Jaworski's kisser solidly with an elbow. Blood gushed all over the Big J's mouth forcing the team doctor to immediately recommend stitches in the nearby hospital. Jaworski was rushed to the Medical City Emergency Room, practically making Ginebra fans lose hope of winning this all important game.

True enough, the lead swelled to double digits as NCC continued its dominance. Hackett was a solid force inside but was the only threat that NCC had to contend with, as even Francis Arnaiz's long range bombs from the outside fell silent, as quiet as the capacity pro-Ginebra crowd at the coliseum. But with time down to seven minutes left in the 4th and last quarter and NCC ahead by 15 points, the Ginebra crowd suddenly reverberated when they saw Jaworski re-entering the hardcourt, proceeded to the bench, and made his way to the scorers' table signifying his intention to return to the game. The fans were in awe with what they saw - Jaworski's lips were just stitched up - seven in all - and was heavily bandaged. The Big J checked in and gathered his troops for one last stand. And with the crowd wildly backing up the Gins, this was their only chance.

NCC never knew what hit them. Suddenly, Moore couldn't rebound, Still had difficulty containing Hackett, Engelland and Allan Caidic's shots from the outside weren't puncturing the hoop, Samboy Lim's daredevil drives met stiff resistance, and Hector Calma's solid and controlled playmaking crumbled - all in awe with the comeback of the Big J. The Gins, on the other hand, suddenly found a new source of strength and energy - as Hackett, Arnaiz, and Jaworski took over the game. The ending saw Ginebra leading for the very first time in the game with time down to a minute and a half left and never relinquished this to take a 4 point victory.

This was the game when Ron Jacobs curtly said in a post-game interview:

1. "There's no other Robert Jaworski in this league except Robert Jaworski."
2. "It will always be difficult to beat a team that runs by heart and desire to win."
3. "I am willing to face any team in the finals except for Jaworski and Ginebra."

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