Iconic Maestro-led UE Red Warriors that achieved an unthinkable 7-peatOctober 12, 2017
by Gerry Plaza
Chronicling an unbelievable, historic accomplishment in college basketball would surely dwell on the outstanding players that fought and won on court.
But for an implausible reign, such as the UE’s dominance of the UAAP for seven straight seasons from 1965-1971, it could not only be credited to the mere brilliance of its Red Warriors but chiefly to a Maestro that made the magic happen.
Yes, the Warriors had Robert Jaworski, Rudolf Kutch, Johnny Revilla, Nat Canson, Virgilio Abarrientos, and Rudy Soriano, among those prolific and gallant cagers whose performances in that incredible streak made them legends in Philippine basketball history.
But one name appeared as a constant in that glory: Fabled UE coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan, the “Maestro” who would not only make his mark as the winningest coach in Philippine basketball, but made the fun pastime evolve into a more serious, better laid-out and strategized sport as well.
Dalupan actually had an ulterior motive—drive national attention not only to the Red Warriors as that magnificent ballclub who’d run rings around opponents and capture one title after another, but to the school his family owned at that time, the University of the East, which had emerged as among the country’s top learning institutions.
Prior to that seven-peat, UE had already won five titles with its blitzkrieg starting in 1957 with Dalupan at the helm and such names as Rhoel Nadurata, Pilo Pumaren, and Jimmy Mariano leading the way in beating perennial titlists FEU and UST in the Finals. But sharing the title to UST in 1963 and losing to the Glowing Goldies in 1964 with Jaworski as a rookie made them determined to grow fiercer in their resolve.
Part of this was Dalupan orienting his wards to higher levels of play in the commercial leagues. In a UE tribute event to Dalupan years back, Pumaren—Dalupan’s assistant coach—disclosed that UE’s “trainees” such as Jaworski and Soriano suited up for the Maestro’s MICAA team, Crispa, to hone their skills during their residency.
And when they were unleashed, the Warriors became merciless and unstoppable on the floor behind Dalupan’s vaunted offensive rotation that had gunners everywhere, while having big men dominate the shaded lane through well assisted incursions. He would also put a prime on defense, using favorable match-ups to the hilt.
His most memorable ploy was not using the same starting five for each game, leaving opponents in playtime disarray.
For Dalupan, it was a team game both on offense and defense, and that took the toll on UE’s main rival during its celebrated run, UST, which had relied mainly on chief gunners Danny Florencio and William “Bogs” Adornado on mere bread-and-butter plays.
And consistently so, UE never wavered, even if its personnel had changed through the years as Dalupan instilled that same system throughout.
Jaworski’s all-around play was moulded in his stint with Dalupan, as he brought the house down with his emphatic leadership in points, assists, and rebounding—when triple doubles were unheard of in Philippine basketball, much less in the UAAP. And of course, his fearsome defensive presence that makes players wary of their shots. With the Big J as the King Warrior at that time, UE notched its first three titles of its seven-peat from 1965-1967.
When Jaworski used up his eligibility, “Haba-haba” Abarrientos, Kutch, Revilla and Soriano were left on their own to continue the streak and they did deliver with the same on-court intensity and wizardry, with Dalupan’s guidance.
The Finals of Season 31, however, ended up just like in Season 26, when it ended in a draw with UE and UST sharing the plum after Dalupan and UST Coach Rogelio Serafico refused to bring in their starting fives in the second half of their championship match, wherein each one was waiting for the other to field their players first. Apparently, both refused to be outsmarted in the match-up game and both Dalupan and Serafico never budged until officials declared a no-contest and gave the title to both teams.
But in the succeeding season, the Red Warriors proved to be the better team as Dalupan’s wards were too much for the sweet shooting Adornado-led Goldies to win its fifth straight title.
Season 33 became Revilla’s coming-out party as he led the Red Warriors in manhandling the NU Bulldogs in the Finals, copping its sixth straight championship.
And with Dalupan announcing that Season 34 will be his final year coaching year, so that he would fully concentrate on coaching Crispa in the MICAA, tagging along his phenomenal Red Warrior trio of Kutch, Soriano and Revilla to the Redmanizers, they left with a bang. UE won its seventh straight plum again at the expense of the hapless Goldies.
For Dalupan, his magnificent career had just started, with his subsequent championships in the MICAA and the PBA amounting to a spellbinding total of 52, a feat unequalled. His wards have also been icons venerated and remembered for their contributions to Philippine basketball.
Thus, with their stature in the echelons of the sport proves that this seven-time feat is just a mere chapter of their heralded legacy.
Photos of Robert Jaworski (left) and Coach Baby Dalupan (right) courtesy of video48.blogspot.com