Ronnie Magsanoc: The savvy, smart court general who led UP to its historic 1986 title run

Gerry Plaza on Nov 29, 2018 04:37 PM
Ronnie Magsanoc: UP's savvy, smart court general
Ronnie Magsanoc, who was the UP Fighting Maroons’ reliable court general, was responsible for bringing composure and order to each play as State U captured its first UAAP men's basketball crown in 1986

Ronnie Magsanoc is one ideal point guard any basketball team would have.

Not only does he have the playmaking savviness and superb skills, he is by far the best court “general” with his awesome smarts and leadership abilities that keep his teammates as a unit on the floor.

He heralded that dynasty of sorts in the San Beda Red Cubs high school basketball team, climaxed with its last NCAA title in 1982 before the school’s momentary sabbatical from the league. It truly won it all with Magsanoc directing the plays, setting up scorers like Dindo Pumaren, Gerry Esplana and Eric Altamirano in the Cubs’ reign.

By the time he bade goodbye to San Beda, he was at the crossroads whether he would follow his peers in a mighty UST Glowing Goldies team or take an “Ikot” jeep towards the UP Gym, where fabled coach Joe Lipa was waiting.

He eventually stayed on that jeep to its destination, with the Diliman team really setting its sights on the much elusive UAAP crown, with a frustrating runner-up finish in 1982 against UE. Altamirano had already committed and his decision would resume that winning Red Cubs backcourt tandem in the 1983 UP Fighting Maroons roster.

However, his first strides in the UAAP were not that triumphant, losing four straight to the league giants that included the Allan Caidic-led UE Red Warriors and the Glenn Capacio-bannered FEU Tamaraws.

Despite this, Magsanoc and the Maroons regained their composure and went on a shocking winning streak that brought them to the Finals against FEU.

Even with the prized rookie, the Maroons’ efforts were not enough to stifle FEU’s guns and UP lost the championship again, to Lipa’s utter frustration.

And Magsanoc would wait until his final year of eligibility—in 1986—when the answer to UP’s prayers came. The powerful, young upstart Benjie Paras, who also came from San Beda, became Magsanoc’s heaven-sent partner in executing offensive plays and building vaunted defensive walls against opponents.

Their combination went non-stop, leading the Maroons to a second-place finish behind the Jerry Codinera-led UE. And with the missing piece to the puzzle already in place, Magsanoc’s promise was fulfilled, setting the stage for Paras, Joey Guanio, Joey Mendoza, and Duane Salvatierra to shine as the Maroons dominated UE in the Finals, overcoming the Warriors’ twice-to-beat edge to bag its first-ever championship in 47 years.

While most would say Paras was the biggest factor behind the championship, he would not have achieved it had it not been for Magsanoc, who was the Maroons’ reliable court general, bringing composure and order to each play, overseeing a systematic rotation, and directing each teammate to play their roles in the court to successful execution.


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