By Waylon Galvez
Former Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) star Maui Huelar was gunned down Thursday afternoon in Bacolod City, according to multiple reports.
The alleged assailants fatally shot the former pro cager inside a gymnasium in Villamonte, according to the SunStar Cebu.
Huelar, nicknamed the ‘Flying Fish’ with his leaping and playmaking skills, starred for the Negros Slashers. He teamed up with Johnedel Cardel, now the coach of Columbian Dyip in the PBA, Reynel Hugnatan, the late Jack Tanuan and onetime MVP John Ferriols.
Huelar and company made the finals of the MBA’s inaugural season in 1998 against eventual champion Pampanga Dragons.
“He was scrappy, street smart, and down to earth,” said veteran broadcaster Bill Velasco, a TV analyst of the MBA. “Not as young or athletic as other players, but the guy you’d want beside you in a game of life or death.
“Even against players trained in big-school systems in Metro Manila, he held his own. Maui was a leader in every sense of the word and even when his knees were bothering him, he sacrificed for the team.”
“Off the court, he was simple, and very funny. He was easy to get along with,” Velasco added.
Hugnatan, who currently plays for the Meralco Bolts in the PBA, posted a picture on his Facebook of the Negros Slashers and captioned it “Rest in peace my brother Maui Huelar ‘The Flying Fish’ #MH15 Sad day sa mga Slashers family”.
Huelar never made it to the PBA, but his perseverance almost got him a spot with FedEx where he was once a reserve.
After his basketball career, Huelar entered politics and was elected barangay captain in their hometown.