William ‘Bogs’ Adornado, perhaps University of Santo Tomas’ most eminent basketball alumnus with three MVP awards in the PBA and a Philippine team stint during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, believes it may take at least four to five years to reconstruct the gutted Growling Tigers varsity program.
“Nag-resign ang mga key players e,” Adornado told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview Wednesday. “Yon ang malaking setback, kasi UST is a young team with a lot of promising talent. Now, they have to start from scratch, e ang hirap makakuha ng players ngayon unlike during my time.”
Out of Divine Word University in Tacloban, Leyte, the young Adornado followed the bidding of his father and went to Manila after completing his secondary education, bent on landing a spot with the University of the East Red Warriors.
“Lagi kasi nagtsa-champion UE non e,” he says.
But on learning that UE already had a full roster, a relative arranged instead for Adornado to try his luck with UST where he scrimmaged with scores of hopefuls for more than a month, bringing his own mosquito net and sleeping in a corner of the old school gym on P. Noval street.
“Ang tagal ng tryout kaya don na ko natira sa gym, dala ko kulambo ko kasi malamok e,” says Adornado.
He was among three rookies who made the grade set by coach Rogelio Serafico in 1968 before a fourth player named Larry Mumar, who came from Ateneo, arrived during UST practice a week before the opening of the UAAP season and was fitted outright for a uniform.
“Di na nag-tryout si Larry,” says Adornado.
That 1968 UST team is now part of UAAP folklore as the Glowing Goldies were named co-champions with the Red Warriors after both their coaches – Serafico for UST and Baby Dalupan for UE – tried to one-up each other by refusing to be the first to send in a starting five for the second half.
The championship game was declared a no-contest, as a consequence, and the two school teams ended up sharing the title.
Adornado would play collegiate ball for three more years but UST never advanced to the finals again as one by one his fellow rookies dropped out of the team for one reason or another, including Mumar.
“Instead of stepping up as the years went on, nabawasan pa kami ng mga players kaya hanggang third place na lang kami,” says Adornado, seeing a parallel with the situation the Growling Tigers are currently mired in.
“They will have to start working on recruitment, and that will take time again,” he says.
“Di ko alam gaano katagal maka-form ng competitive team ngayon kasi ang dami mo nang kalaban. Lahat ng schools nagre-recruit e.
“Sabi ko nga, start from scratch sila. Kaya tingin ko kulang three years to rebuild. At least four or five years siguro. Recruitment talaga ang key, and budget, of course.”