A tribute to basketball legend Danny Florencio

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  • He carried the national colors in the different international arenas eight times but Danilo “Daredevil Danny” Florencio is to be best remembered as the hero in the Philippines’ campaign in the 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA-Asia).

    Florencio, also acknowledged as the original “Skywalker” in the local basketball scene, scored the Carlos Loyzaga-coached nationals; last four points, including the title clinching two free throws in the dying seconds that gave the Philippine an 83-80 victory over host South Korea and its third championship in the biennial series.

    That, likewise, qualified the country to the Olympic Games held in 1968 in Mexico City for the seventh straight time. Danny’s teammates in that champion team were Robert “Sonny” Jaworski, Narciso Bernardo, Orlando Bauzon, Jaime Mariano, Rogelio Melencio, Edgardo Ocampo, Adriano Papa Jr. Renato Reyes, team captain Alberto “Big Boy” Reynoso, Joaquin Rojas Jr. and Edgardo Roque.

    Florencio, likewise, was a member of the National Five in the 1969 and 1971 editions of the ABC, the last when the country ended up runner up to make it anew to the 1972 Munich Olympics, the last time the Philippines saw action quadrennial comclave.

    Danny also saw action in the Asian Games – 1966 and 1970 in Bangkok and 1974 in Tehran.

    Born on September 5, 1947 in Quiapo, Manila Florencio passed away last February 25 in Pittsburg, California at age 70.

    Florencio first made his mark as a forward and shooting guard while playing for the University of Santo Tomas from 1965-1967 at the height of the Glowing Tigers-University of the East Red Warriors, then starring Jaworki, rivalry.  After he left UST, the YCO Painters competing in the MICAA in the late 1960s, which was coached by no less than the great Loyzaga.

    He was part of the resurrected legendary Crispa Redmanizers of the Danny Floro-Baby Dalupan tandem that won every amateur title to be on from the early 70s in the early 1970s until the birth of the professional Philippine Basketball Association in 1975.

    Florencio played in the PBA from 1975 to 1983 with the U/Tex Wranglers, the Toyota Super Corollas, 7-Up, and the Galerie Dominique. Though generously listed as 5’10” he distinguished himself with daring drives to the hoop capped by rarely-before-seen hang-time moves and twisting undergoal stabs. He also had some accurate jump shots from up to 18 feet.

    On November, 5, 1977, the then 30-year-old Florencio became the first Filipino player in the pro-league to score over 60 points, 64 points to be exact, in Seven-Up’s 121-136 loss to Toyota.

    What made his performance spectaculars was that he fashioned it out in a conference which had teams parading a pair of imports each with no height limit in a season.

    In 39 games with the Uncolas that season, Florencio averaged a mind-bogglingc 32.3 points a game, a record that remained unbroken for 14 years before it was surpassed by Alan Caidic.

    His scoring spree started immediately after he was traded bh Universal Textiles to Seven-Up for Cristino Reynoso.

    Aside from his 64-poing showing in a game that season, Florencio also jumped and drove his way to at least 50 points per game four times, at least 40 points six times and at least 30 points eight times that overshadowed even the league’s certified “triggerman Caidic’s.

    He was also the ninth player to achieve the 5,000 point-plateau, reaching the milestone on his birthday in 1981. At the end of his career, he ranked 11th in the all-time scoring plateau with 5,791 points, eighth in scoring average, and 13th all time in steals.

    He was named one the PBA’s 25 greatest players during the pro league’s silver anniversary celebration.

    By EDDIE G. ALINEA

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