Luke Dacula, one of Ginebra’s pioneer players, passes away at 72

Published April 22, 2021, 11:54 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from Jan Dacula’s Facebook account

Luke Dacula, who played in the PBA’s first-ever game and an original member of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, passed away recently at the age of 72.

His son Jan said through social media that Dacula, also known as Lucrecio Dator, succumbed to a heart attack last April 7, more than three weeks after celebrating his birthday.

Dacula played seven seasons in the PBA before coaching several high school and collegiate teams, most notably as an assistant for the late Nic Jorge at the University of the Philippines in the late-90s.

The former Southwestern University standout suited up in the pro league’s inaugural game on April 9, 1975 when Mariwasa Noritake took on Concepcion Carrier before a packed crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

He scored two points courtesy of a field goal during the historic contest that saw Noritake eke out a 101-98 victory behind a 48-point performance from import Cisco Oliver.

Dacula was also part of the Mariwasa roster that broke a streak of six straight title showdown between archrivals Crispa and Toyota when the Emerson Coseteng-owned franchise made it to the 1977 PBA First Conference Finals.

The Hondas, despite the presence of import Billy Robinson, lost to the Redmanizers in the championship series.

He joined Gilbey’s Gin in 1979, becoming one of the pioneers of the franchise that would later be known as Ginebra, before wrapping up his career with CDCP in 1981.

Dacula, who was described in the 1979 PBA Annual as “a good passer and shooter” and being greeted with “hoots” due to his surname that rhymes to a spooky character, averaged 7.2 points in 232 games.