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PBA comm Marcial misses Mente's jolliness as former dunk champ passes away

Joey Mente, right, started his career with Iloilo in the MBA, teaming up with the likes of current ESPN 5 commentator Dominic Uy, center, before becoming a PBA champion.
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--PBA commissioner Willie Marcial expressed his sadness after hearing the news of Joey Mente's untimely death.

Mente, who was the franchise star of Iloilo in the MBA before becoming a two-time PBA champ and a slam dunk king with San Miguel, lost his battle to cancer at the age of 42.

In fact, Marcial, who was part of Vintage Sports's production team during Mente's early PBA days, could not believe the energetic guard died at the said age, all the more when he found out about his condition beforehand.

"Nakakagulat noong sinabi sa amin yun last year na may ganun siyang kalagayan," Marcial said on Wednesday night.

He then said that he will miss Mente's fun spirit and even his singing voice especially when his team goes out of town.

"Masayahing tao yun. Nakakasama namin [siya] sa game na out-of-town. Mahilig kumanta yun," Marcial shared his memories of Mente. "Nakakalungkot yun kasi sinapit niya yung ganoong kalagayan. Huling kita ko sa kanya, ang sigla niya."

Despite not exactly translating his stellar MBA career to the PBA, Mente still showed his work ethic in a star-studded Beermen lineup led by Danny Seigle, Danny Ildefonso, and Olsen Racela, something Marcial commended.

"Sa paglalaro, nakikita mo naman na masipag," the commissioner continued.

Mente, who decided to step away from the hardwood after his stint with Rain Or Shine ended in 2008, turned to poker to continue his professional athletic career before his cancer diagnosis forced him to retire for good.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno