Rafael “Paing” Hechanova, who represented the national basketball team thrice during the 1950s and later became an executive in both the MICAA and the PBA, died last Aug. 26 at the age of 93.
Hechanova was part of the 1952 Helsinki Olympic squad and a member of the Philippine cage teams that captured the first two stagings of the Asian Games in 1951 at New Delhi and 1954 in Manila.
He was supposed to join the team that wound up placing third in the 1954 World Championship in Rio de Janeiro, the best finish ever by a Philippine squad, but backed out due to professional commitments.
Born in Jaro, Iloilo, the 5-foot-11 Hechanova played for University of Santo Tomas shortly after World War II under Herm Silva and played for YCO in the MICAA. He was also named Mr. Basketball in 1951 by the Philippine Sportswriters Association.
After his playing days were over, Hechanova became president of the MICAA as representative of Concepcion Industries. He was later named second vice president of the PBA when the team joined eight other ballclubs in forming Asia’s first professional league.
Hechanova, who also had a tenure as a PBA team manager, was later inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.
Outside of basketball, Hechanova also served in the Rotary Club of Makati and was chairman of the Philippine Olympians Association.
He is the uncle of former PBA owner and Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion while his late brother Cecil was a former amateur golfer and founding chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.