PBA legend Joey Loyzaga said he couldn’t help but feel nostalgic to be at the Big Dome again watching the fans cheer for Barangay Ginebra during the “Return of Rivals” benefit games last Sunday.
The other half of the legendary Loyzaga brothers wasn’t able to play on the court, but he still felt the thrill of seeing his “batchmates” running up and down the court.
“Nostalgic, goosebumps. It was some feeling I used to feel before. Fantastic,” said Loyzaga, now 57, during his interview with ANC’s Hardball.
The former Gin King, who has settled with his family in Australia, visited the Philippines for an alumni event with his alma mater San Beda last January. It so happened that the PBA, along with UNTV organized a benefit game.
But knee problems prevented him from joining the fray.
“I was excited, but I told them ‘look I was just saling pusa,’” said Loyzaga. “I know I wasn’t really gonna play because after practice my knees were beginning to swell.”
He is the other half of the Loyzaga duo, the other being his brother Chito. They were among the more familiar fixtures of
Barangay Ginebra during the 1980s.
Loyzaga recounted how throngs of fans followed them even during practices.
“Nagpa-practice kami, puno ang San Agustin. When you go out (of the court), truckload, buses of fans. Practice pa lang ‘yun. After practice, ‘yung fans nasa court na. Having (their) pictures taken, having autographs. It was something else during that time. I think it’s because of ‘number 7.’ I think it’s coach (Sonny Jaworski),” said Loyzaga.
“What I saw yesterday (at the game) I was amazed. A lot of Filipinos love basketball. Maybe it’s because of the charisma of Coach Sonny.”
Although he’s been away from the sport, Loyzaga couldn’t help but compare the players of the past and the present.
“I think we played harder ball, before. There was more pride, there was more instinct of winning. Parang mas may competition talaga noon. Magkaibigan tayo yes, pero iba ‘pag dating sa court,” he said.
When asked if he still misses playing basketball, he said he has already moved on.
“No more… I have another life there now, my family, wife and my daughter. All doing good over there,” said Loyzaga.